AiS Challenge Team Abstract


Team Number: 035

School Name: Freedom High School

Area of Science: Astro Physics

Project Title: The Mystery of Spiral Galaxies



How and why do galaxies form in spirals? Perhaps it lies in there location or maybe it's due to dark matter. All of the stars in a spiral galaxy orbit at approximately the same speed--given that the inner sections would achieve full revolution in a smaller time span, the appearance of a structure or an area of greater density would break down or vanish. The perplexing question being, "How do spiral arm formations maintain themselves over billions of years or a variable amount of time that would, in theory, be more then long enough for such a structure to break down?" The Milky Way Galaxy, formed anywhere from ten to twelve billion years ago, has had a "spiral arm" lifespan that defies the natural laws of gravity. The purpose of our project is to try to identify the cause or causes of these interesting shapes. We will be using a computational approach to model these questions mathematically--hopefully finding out what maintains these galaxies in these common, but confusing shapes.

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