It’s hard to translate an image taken by a telescope to a physical object like a galaxy, but, like with most things, computers have made the job easier. Astronomers can code models of galaxies and determine the most realistic models based on observations. A recent study showcases this, presenting a code that can model all sorts of galaxies along with their internal motions.
Hubble view of NGC 1300, a barred spiral galaxy. [NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)]
Physical Frameworks and Altered Orbits
Any model begins with some assumed framework of physics. In a 1979 paper, Martin Schwarzschild proposed a method of modeling groups of stars called the orbit-superposition method. This method assumed that a system could be modeled as a gravitational potential that had objects orbiting in it and that properties of the system could be studied by seeing how the orbits changed with time.
While Schwarzschild used the orbit-superposition method to consider elliptical galaxies, other researchers have used it to study galaxies with more distinct structures like disks and bars. Since the 1990s, the Schwarzschild orbit-superposition method has been used extensively in galaxy modeling.
In a new study, Eugene Vasiliev (University of Cambridge) and Monica Valluri ...