Measurement of Galactic Logarithmic Spiral Arm Pitch Angle Using Two-Dimensional Fast Fourier Transform Decomposition

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Davis, Benjamin L. ; Berrier, Joel C. ; Shields, Douglas W. ; Kennefick, Julia ; Kennefick, Daniel ; Seigar, Marc S. ; Lacy, Claud H. S. ; Puerari, Ivânio (2012)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1088/0067-0049/199/2/33
  • Subject: Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
    arxiv: Astrophysics::Galaxy Astrophysics | Astrophysics::Cosmology and Extragalactic Astrophysics

A logarithmic spiral is a prominent feature appearing in a majority of observed galaxies. This feature has long been associated with the traditional Hubble classification scheme, but historical quotes of pitch angle of spiral galaxies have been almost exclusively qualitative. We have developed a methodology, utilizing two-dimensional fast Fourier transformations of images of spiral galaxies, in order to isolate and measure the pitch angles of their spiral arms. Our technique provides a quantitative way to measure this morphological feature. This will allow comparison of spiral galaxy pitch angle to other galactic parameters and test spiral arm genesis theories. In this work, we detail our image processing and analysis of spiral galaxy images and discuss the robustness of our analysis techniques.
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