Bars as seen by Herschel and Sloan
1 Dipartimento di Fisica G. Occhialini, Università di Milano-Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 3, 20126 Milano, Italy
2 Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, LAM (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille), UMR 7326, 13388 Marseille, France
Received: 30 June 2016
Accepted: 30 December 2016
We present an observational study of the effect of bars on the gas component and on the star formation properties of their host galaxies in a statistically significant sample of resolved objects, the Herschel Reference Sample. The analysis of optical and far-infrared images allows us to identify a clear spatial correlation between stellar bars and the cold-gas distribution mapped by the warm dust emission. We find that the infrared counterparts of optically identified bars are either bar-like structures or dead central regions in which star formation is strongly suppressed. Similar morphologies are found in the distribution of star formation directly traced by Hα maps. The sizes of such optical and infrared structures correlate remarkably well, hinting at a causal connection. In the light of previous observations and of theoretical investigations in the literature, we interpret our findings as further evidence of the scenario in which bars drive strong inflows toward their host nuclei: young bars are still in the process of perturbing the gas and star formation clearly delineates the shape of the bars; old bars on the contrary already removed any gas within their extents, carving a dead region of negligible star formation.
Key words: galaxies: structure / galaxies: star formation / galaxies: evolution
© ESO, 2017