Vol 24, No 3

Comparing the Structural Parameters of the Milky Way to Other Spiral Galaxies

Jacob A. Guerrette, Aleksandr V. Mosenkov, Dallin Spencer and Zacory D. Shakespear


The structural parameters of a galaxy can be used to gain insight into its formation and evolution history. In this paper, we strive to compare the Milky Way's structural parameters to other, primarily edge-on, spiral galaxies in order to determine how our Galaxy measures up to the Local Universe. For our comparison, we use the galaxy structural parameters gathered from a variety of literature sources in the optical and near-infrared wave bands. We compare the scale length, scale height, and disk flatness for both the thin and thick disks, the thick-to-thin disk mass ratio, the bulge-to-total luminosity ratio, and the mean pitch angle of the Milky Way's spiral arms to those in other galaxies. We conclude that many of the Milky Way's structural parameters are largely ordinary and typical of spiral galaxies in the Local Universe, though the Galaxy's thick disk appears to be appreciably thinner and less extended than expected from zoom-in cosmological simulations of Milky Way-mass galaxies with a significant contribution of galaxy mergers involving satellite galaxies.


Key words: Galaxy: disk – galaxies: fundamental parameters – Galaxy: structure

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