Barred spiral galaxy

A barred spiral galaxy is a spiral galaxy with a central bar-shaped structure composed of stars.[1] Bars are found in about half of all spiral galaxies.[2][3] Bars generally affect both the motions of stars and interstellar gas within spiral galaxies and can affect spiral arms as well.[2] The Milky Way Galaxy, where the Solar System is located, is classified as a barred spiral galaxy.[4]

NGC 1300, viewed nearly face-on; Hubble Space Telescope image

Edwin Hubble classified spiral galaxies of this type as "SB" (spiral, barred) in his Hubble sequence and arranged them into sub-categories based on how open the arms of the spiral are. SBa types feature tightly bound arms, while SBc types are at the other extreme and have loosely bound arms. SBb-type galaxies lie in between the two. SB0 is a barred lenticular galaxy. A new type, SBm, was subsequently created to describe somewhat irregular barred spirals, such as the Magellanic Clouds, which were once classified as irregular galaxies, but have since been found to contain barred spiral structures. Among other types in Hubble's classifications for the galaxies are the spiral galaxy, elliptical galaxy and irregular galaxy.


Barred spiral galaxy IC 5201, located more than 40 million light-years from Earth. It was discovered by Joseph Lunt.[5]

Barred galaxies are apparently predominant, with surveys showing that up to two-thirds of all spiral galaxies contain a bar.[6] The current hypothesis is that the bar structure acts as a type of stellar nursery, fueling star birth at their centers. The bar is thought to act as a mechanism that channels gas inwards from the spiral arms through orbital resonance, in effect funneling the flow to create new stars.[7] This process is also thought to explain why many barred spiral galaxies have active galactic nuclei, such as that seen in the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy.

The creation of the bar is generally thought to be the result of a density wave radiating from the center of the galaxy whose effects reshape the orbits of the inner stars. This effect builds over time to stars orbiting further out, which creates a self-perpetuating bar structure.[8]

Bars are thought to be temporary phenomena in the lives of spiral galaxies; the bar structures decay over time, transforming galaxies from barred spirals to more "regular" spiral patterns. Past a certain size the accumulated mass of the bar compromises the stability of the overall bar structure. Barred spiral galaxies with high mass accumulated in their center tend to have short, stubby bars.[9] Since so many spiral galaxies have bar structures, it is likely that they are recurring phenomena in spiral galaxy development. The oscillating evolutionary cycle from spiral galaxy to barred spiral galaxy is thought to take on the average about two billion years.[10]

Recent studies have confirmed the idea that bars are a sign of galaxies reaching full maturity as the "formative years" end. A 2008 investigation found that only 20 percent of the spiral galaxies in the distant past possessed bars, compared with about 65 percent of their local counterparts.[11]

Milky Way Galaxy spiral arms - based on WISE data.


NGC 7640 is a barred spiral galaxy in the Andromeda constellation.[12]

The general classification is "SB" (spiral barred). The sub-categories are based on how open or tight the arms of the spiral are. SBa types feature tightly bound arms. SBc types are at the other extreme and have loosely bound arms. SBb galaxies lie in between. SBm describes somewhat irregular barred spirals. SB0 is a barred lenticular galaxy.


Example Type Image Information
NGC 2787 SB0   SB0 is a type of lenticular galaxy
NGC 4314 SBa  
NGC 4921 SBab  
Messier 95 SBb  
NGC 3953 SBbc  
NGC 1073 SBc  
Messier 108 SBcd  
NGC 2903 SBd  
NGC 5398 SBdm   SBdm can also be considered a type

of barred Magellanic spiral

NGC 55 SBm   SBm is a type of Magellanic spiral (Sm)

Other examplesEdit

Name Image Type Constellation
M58   SBc Virgo
M91   SBb Coma Berenices
M95   SBb Leo
M109   SBb Ursa Major
NGC 1300   SBbc Eridanus
NGC 7541   SB(rs)bcpec Pisces
NGC 1365   SBc Fornax
NGC 2217   SBa Canis Major
Magellanic Clouds   SBm Dorado, Tucana
UGC 12158   SB Pegasus
NGC 1512[13]   SB(r)ab Horologium

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Barred spiral galaxy". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  2. ^ a b D. Mihalas (1968). Galactic Astronomy. W. H. Freeman. ISBN 978-0-7167-0326-6.
  3. ^ Timothy Ferris (1998). The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-6848-3861-8.
  4. ^ Gerhard, Ortwin (2002). "Mass distribution in our Galaxy". arXiv:astro-ph/0203110. (Sbc = spiral barred)
  5. ^ "A closer look at IC 5201". Archived from the original on 15 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  6. ^ P. B. Eskridge; J. A. Frogel (1999). "What is the True Fraction of Barred Spiral Galaxies?". Astrophysics and Space Science. 269/270: 427–430. Bibcode:1999Ap&SS.269..427E. doi:10.1023/A:1017025820201.
  7. ^ J. H. Knapen; D. Pérez-Ramírez; S. Laine (2002). "Circumnuclear regions in barred spiral galaxies - II. Relations to host galaxies". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 337 (3): 808–828. arXiv:astro-ph/0207258. Bibcode:2002MNRAS.337..808K. doi:10.1046/j.1365-8711.2002.05840.x.
  8. ^ F. Bournaud; F. Combes (2002). "Gas accretion on spiral galaxies: Bar formation and renewal". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 392 (1): 83–102. arXiv:astro-ph/0206273. Bibcode:2002A&A...392...83B. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20020920.
  9. ^ Barred Spirals Come and Go, Sky and Telescope, April 2002
  10. ^ Ripples in a Galactic Pond Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine, Scientific American, October 2005
  11. ^ Sheth, Kartik; Elmegreen, Debra Meloy; Elmegreen, Bruce G.; et al. (2008). "Evolution of the Bar Fraction in COSMOS: Quantifying the Assembly of the Hubble Sequence". The Astrophysical Journal. 675 (2): 1141–1155. arXiv:0710.4552. Bibcode:2008ApJ...675.1141S. doi:10.1086/524980. ISSN 0004-637X.
  12. ^ "A spiral in Andromeda". Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Galactic David and Goliath". Archived from the original on 2017-09-22. Retrieved 2017-09-22.

External linksEdit