Testing the correlation between spiral ARM pitch angle and central black hole mass

Douglas W. Shields, J. Adam Hughes, Scott R. Barrows, Ben Davis, Daniel Kennefick, Julia Kennefick, William Ring, Marc Seigar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


In order to address the "cosmic downsizing problem," or the underpopulation of highly massive quasars in the current epoch, the Arkansas Galaxy Evolution Survey is exploring a correlation, the M-P relation, between the pitch angle of a galaxy's spiral arms and the mass of its central supermassive black hole (SMBH). The goal is to add to the census of SMBH masses using only images, without relying on spectra. We present the null correlation between the pitch angle of spiral arms and redshift. The data set includes 225 galaxies from the GOODS North and South fields with redshifts out to z ∼ 1.2. There does not appear to be any dependence of pitch angle on redshift. Consequently, if the relationship between pitch angle and SMBH mass has not evolved since z ∼ 1.2, then the mean mass of SMBH has also remained constant. If, on the other hand, the relationship has evolved, then the mean mass has evolved inversely with the relationship. This conclusion is subject to further studies on possible selection effects. Additionally, we present preliminary results testing the M-P relation by comparing the masses of a sample of active spiral galaxies as calculated by the pitch angle method with those calculated by the mass scaling relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFirst Stars and Galaxies
Subtitle of host publicationChallenges for the Next Decade
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 2010
Event1st Stars and Galaxies: Challenges for the Next Decade - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: Mar 8 2010Mar 11 2010

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616


Other1st Stars and Galaxies: Challenges for the Next Decade
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAustin, TX


  • Black holes
  • Spiral arms


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