Astrophysics and Space Science

, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 177–199 | Cite as

Large-scale flow of interstellar gas in galactic spiral waves: Effects of thermal balance and self-gravitation

  • L. S. Marochnik
  • B. G. Berman
  • Yu. N. Mishurov
  • A. A. Suchkov


Using the recent observational data on atomic and molecular hydrogen in the Galaxy, we analyse the dynamics of the interstellar gas in a spiral density wave. Within the framework of Marochniket al.'s (1972) model of the galactic spiral structure, the gas flow is obtained, with self-gravitation and thermal processes taken into account.

It is shown that: (1) the self-gravitation of gas does not practically affect the galactic shock if the dominant contribution into the gas density comes from atomic hydrogen; (2) the effects of self-gravitation could be essential for both the gas flow and the stellar spiral wave only if the density contribution of H2 exceeded several times that ofHi, with molecular hydrogen as a continuous medium having the isothermal equation of state; (3) however, regardless of the estimates of H2 abundance in the Galaxy, its reaction to the density wave is weak, since it forms a collisionless system not dragged by the intercloud gas.

It has been found that, if we allow for thermal processes in the interstellar medium, new types of gas flow can develop alongside with a previously-known continuous flow and galactic shock. They are: (1) galactic shock with the phase transition leading to the formation of dense cold clouds; (2) a ‘three-phase flow’ where hot ‘cavities’ and dense cold clouds coexist with an initial, moderately dense and cold phase; (3) an accretion wave which is a specific type of nonlinear wave with an amplitude of 11/2 orders of magnitude larger than that of the isothermal galactic shock appearing under the same conditions, but without heating and cooling.


Molecular Hydrogen Density Wave Spiral Wave Spiral Structure Cold Phase 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Co 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. S. Marochnik
    • 1
  • B. G. Berman
    • 2
  • Yu. N. Mishurov
    • 2
  • A. A. Suchkov
    • 2
  1. 1.Space Research InstituteUSSR Academy of SciencesMoscowUSSR
  2. 2.Rostov State UniversityRostov-on-DonUSSR

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