The GALAH survey and Gaia DR2: Linking ridges, arches, and vertical waves in the kinematics of the Milky Way

Shourya Khanna*, Sanjib Sharma, Thor Tepper-Garcia, Joss Bland-Hawthorn, Michael Hayden, Martin Asplund, Sven Buder, Boquan Chen, Gayandhi M. De Silva, Ken C. Freeman, Janez Kos, Geraint F. Lewis, Jane Lin, Sarah L. Martell, Jeffrey D. Simpson, Thomas Nordlander, Dennis Stello, Yuan Sen Ting, Daniel B. Zucker, Tomaž Zwitter

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)


    Gaia DR2 has revealed new small-scale and large-scale patterns in the phase-space distribution of stars in the Milky Way. In cylindrical Galactic coordinates (R, φ, z), ridge-like structures can be seen in the (R, Vφ) plane and asymmetric arch-like structures in the (VR, Vφ) plane. We show that the ridges are also clearly present when the third dimension of the (R, Vφ) plane is represented by z, Vz, VR, [Fe/H], and [α/Fe]. The maps suggest that stars along the ridges lie preferentially close to the Galactic mid-plane (|z| < 0.2 kpc), and have metallicity and α elemental abundance similar to that of the Sun. We show that phase mixing of disrupting spiral arms can generate both the ridges and the arches. It also generates discrete groupings in orbital energy − the ridges and arches are simply surfaces of constant energy. We identify eight distinct ridges in the Gaia DR2 data: six of them have constant energy while two have constant angular momentum. Given that the signature is strongest for stars close to the plane, the presence of ridges in z and Vz suggests a coupling between planar and vertical directions. We demonstrate, using N-body simulations that such coupling can be generated both in isolated discs and in discs perturbed by an orbiting satellite like the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4962-4979
    Number of pages18
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


    • Galaxies: spiral
    • Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics
    • Methods: numerical
    • Stars: abundances


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