Probing axial symmetry breaking in the galaxy with gaia data release 2

Austin Hinkel, Susan Gardner, Brian Yanny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We study a set of solar neighborhood (d < 3 kpc) stars from Gaia Data Release 2 to determine azimuthal star count differences, i.e., left and right of the line from the Galactic Center (GC) through the Sun - and compare these differences north and south. In this companion paper to Gardner et al., we delineate our procedures to remove false asymmetries from sampling effects, incompleteness, and/or interloper populations, as this is crucial to tests of axisymmetry. Particularly, we have taken care to make appropriate selections of magnitude, color, in-plane Galactocentric radius, and Galactic ιb ι and ιz ι. We find that requiring parallax determinations of high precision induces sampling biases, so that we eschew such requirements and exclude, e.g., regions around the lines of sight to the Magellanic Clouds, along with their mirror-image lines of sight, to ensure well-matched data sets. After making conservative cuts, we demonstrate the existence of azimuthal asymmetries and find differences in those, north and south. These asymmetries give key insights into the nature and origins of the perturbations on Galactic matter, allowing us to assess the relative influence of the Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC), the Galactic bar, and other masses on the Galactic mass distribution, as described in Gardner et al. The asymmetry's radial dependence reveals variations that we attribute to the Galactic bar, and it changes sign at a radius of (0.95 ± 0.03)R 0, with R 0 the Sun-GC distance, to give us the first direct assessment of the outer Lindblad resonant radius.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 20 2020

Bibliographical note

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© 2020. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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