Direct evidence for a bar at the galactic center

Leo Blitz, David N. Spergel

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324 Scopus citations


The bar at the center of the Milky Way, long postulated from a number of different studies, is unambiguously detected in the 2.4 μm observations of the Galactic center of Matsumoto et al. We model the emission from a triaxial stellar bar and describe its distinctive signature. This signature is found in the data. The near side of the bar is in the first Galactic quadrant and the bar is tilted with respect to the Galactic plane in a sense consistent with the work of Sinha and of Liszt and Burton, who first proposed a tilted bar to explain the kinematics of the H I and CO at the Galactic center. The small extinction that is observed at latitudes greater than 3° at 2.4 μm cannot account for the asymmetries observed in the distribution of the infrared emission. The bar is distinct from the triaxial spheroid postulated by Blitz and Spergel as the source of the asymmetries in the H I distribution in the outer Galaxy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-638
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: The Galaxy
  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • Galaxies: structure
  • Infrared: sources


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