Featured Image: A Bar in the Andromeda Galaxy

Even though the Andromeda Galaxy is among our nearest galactic neighbors, there’s still much about it that we don’t know. Since the 1950s, astronomers have debated whether Andromeda, similar to the Milky Way, hosts a central bar of stars. Discerning Andromeda’s structure is key to understanding how it formed and evolved, but its tilted orientation makes it difficult to do so from our vantage point. Now, a team led by Zi-Xuan Feng (Shanghai Astronomical Observatory and University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences) has presented new evidence that shows Andromeda is indeed a barred galaxy. The above image shows the new results superimposed atop observations from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Subaru and Mayall ground-based telescopes. The red and blue symbols indicate the locations of velocity jumps — shocks — identified in emission from oxygen and hydrogen gas. Using simulations, Feng and collaborators show that shocks of this type cannot form without a rotating bar of stars. To learn more about the observations and simulations that led to this conclusion, be sure to check out the full article below!


“Large-scale Hydrodynamical Shocks as the Smoking-gun Evidence for a Bar in M31,” Zi-Xuan Feng et al 2022 ApJ 933 233. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ac7964