The morphology of the Milky Way - I. Reconstructing CO maps from simulations in fixed potentials
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society
© 2014 The Authors. This is the final version of the article. Available from Oxford University Press (OUP) via the DOI in this record.
We present an investigation into the morphological features of the MilkyWay.We use smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) to simulate the interstellar medium (ISM) in the Milky Way under the effect of a number of different gravitational potentials representing spiral arms and bars, assuming that the Milky Way is a grand design spiral in nature. The gas is subject to ISM cooling and chemistry, enabling us to track the evolution of molecular gas. We use a 3D radiative transfer code to simulate the emission from the SPH output, allowing for the construction of synthetic longitude-velocity (l-v) emission maps as viewed from the Earth. By comparing these maps with the observed emission in CO from the Milky Way, we infer the arm/bar geometry that provides a best fit to our Galaxy. We find that it is possible to reproduce nearly all features of the l-v diagram in CO emission. There is no model, however, that satisfactorily reproduces all of the features simultaneously. Models with two arms cannot reproduce all the observed arm features, while four armed models produce too bright local emission in the inner Galaxy. Our best-fitting models favour a bar pattern speed within 50-60 km s-1 kpc-1 and an arm pattern speed of approximately 20 km s-1 kpc-1, with a bar orientation of approximately 45° and arm pitch angle between 10°-15°.
We thank an anonymous referee, whose comments and suggestions improved the paper. We also thank Tom Dame for providing access to the CO longitude–velocity data. The calculations for this paper were performed on the DiRAC Complexity machine, jointly funded by STFC and the Large Facilities Capital Fund of BIS, and the University of Exeter Supercomputer, a DiRAC Facility jointly funded by STFC, the Large Facilities Capital Fund of BIS and the University of Exeter. ARP is supported by an STFC-funded post-graduate studentship. CLD acknowledges funding from the European Research Council for the FP7 ERC starting grant project LOCALSTAR. DJP is supported by a Future Fellowship funded by the Australian Research Council (FT130100034). Figures showing SPH particle density were rendered using SPLASH (Price 2007). Datasets used in this paper are available at: http://hdl.handle.net/10871/15057.
Vol. 444, No. 1, pp. 919-941