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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Effect of Bars on the Ionized ISM: Optical Emission Lines from Milky Way Analogs


Gas interior to the bar of the Milky Way has recently been shown to be the closest example of a low-ionization (nuclear) emission region (LI(N)ER) in the universe. To better understand the nature of this gas, a sample of face-on galaxies with integral field spectroscopy is used to study the ionized gas conditions of 240 barred and 250 nonbarred galaxies, focusing on those that are most similar to the Milky Way. Strong optical line emission of [N ii] λ6584, Hα, [O iii] λ5007, and Hβ are used to diagnose the dominant ionization mechanisms of gas across galaxies and the Galaxy via Baldwin-Phillips-Terlevich diagrams. Barred galaxies show a strong suppression of star formation and an increase in composite and LI(N)ER-like spectra in their inner regions when compared with similar nonbarred counterparts. This effect is lessened in galaxies of very low () or very high () total stellar mass. Bar masks from Galaxy Zoo:3D show the bar's nonaxisymmetric effect on the ionized gas and help predict the face-on distribution of ionized gas conditions near the bar of the Milky Way.

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