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PHYS295 Astronomy 2013

Galaxy Classification Part Weeks 11 and 12

To understand the morphological characteristics of galaxies that led to the Hubble tuning Fork classification and modern extensions this classification.

Read the Powerpoint presentation on galaxies. Read the following notes on galaxy classification schemes, paying particular attention to the De Vaucouleurs Classification. Complete the Galaxy Classification Quiz on the PHYS295 e-learning site using the de Vaucouleurs Classification. .

Hubbles Classification Scheme

(from Edwin Hubble developed a galaxy classification scheme consisting of four types: elliptical, spiral, barred spiral, and irregular. Three of these types are represented in the "tuning fork" diagram below.

Elliptical Galaxies An elliptical galaxy shows no structure and may be almost round (what Hubble called E0) to almost cigar shaped (called E7). This classification is based on the projection as seen from Earth and not on the 3-D shape. Spiral Galaxies Spiral galaxies have curving arms suggestive of a whirlpool or pinwheel. Hubble distinguished different sub-classes. Sa, Sb, and Sc, according to the tightness of the arms and the size of the nucleus. Sa has a

dominant nuclear bulge while Sc has dominant spiral arms. The galaxies that appear to have a disc but no spiral arms are called S0. Barred Spirals Barred spirals show the same morphology as normal spirals, but the arms come from the ends of a central bar through the nucleus. The sub-classifications are the same as for normal spirals. Irregulars Many galaxies lack either an obvious spiral structure or nuclear bulge, appearing instead as a random collection of stars.

De Vaucouleurs Classification.
( Hubble's two-dimensional classification of spiral galaxies - based on the tightness of the spiral arms and the presence or absence of a bar - cannot adequately describe the full range of observed galaxy morphologies. The de Vaucouleurs system retains Hubbles basic division of galaxies into ellipticals, lenticulars, spirals and irregulars but also includes the presence of rings and lenses.

de Vaucouleurs introduced a classification for spiral galaxies, based on three morphological characteristics:

Bars. Galaxies are divided on the basis of the presence or absence of a nuclear bar. SA denotes spiral galaxies without bars, SB for barred spirals and an intermediate class, denoted SAB, covers weakly barred spirals. Lenticular galaxies are classified (SA0) or barred (SB0) with S0 implying there is no detectable bar. Rings. Galaxies possessing ring-like structures are denoted (r) and those without rings (s). Transition galaxies are given the symbol (rs). Spiral arms. Spiral galaxies are assigned a class based primarily on the tightness of their spiral arms. The de Vaucouleurs scheme extends the arms of Hubbles tuning fork to include several additional spiral classes:

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Sd (SBd) - diffuse, broken arms made up of individual stellar clusters and nebulae; very faint central bulge Sm (SBm) - irregular in appearance; no bulge component Im - highly irregular galaxy

Most galaxies in these three classes were classified as Irr I in Hubbles original scheme. In addition, the Sd class contains some galaxies from Hubbles Sc class. Galaxies in the classes Sm and Im are termed the Magellanic spirals and irregulars, respectively, after the Magellanic Clouds. The Large Magellanic Cloud is of type SBm, while the Small Magellanic Cloud is an irregular (Im). The different elements of the classification scheme are combined - in the order in which they are listed to give the complete classification of a galaxy. For example, a weakly-barred spiral galaxy with looselywound arms and a ring is denoted SAB(r)c.