Circumnuclear kinematics in NGC 5248: The origin of nuclear spiral arms

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We present for the first time a two-dimensional velocity field of the central region of the grand-design spiral galaxy NGC 5248, at 0.9-arcsec spatial resolution. The Hα velocity field is dominated by circular rotation. While no systematic streaming motions are seen in the area of the nuclear grand-design spiral or the circumnuclear ring, the amplitude of residual velocities, after subtracting a model circular velocity field, reaches 20kms-1 in projection. The rotation curve levels out at around 140 kms -1, after a well-resolved and rather shallow rise. We have generated an analytical model for the nuclear spiral and fitted it to our observations to obtain estimates of the pattern speed of the spiral and the speed of sound in the central region of NGC 5248. Our results are consistent with a low pattern speed, suggesting that the nuclear spiral rotates with the same rate as the main spiral structure in NGC 5248, and thus that the spiral structure is coupled from scales of a few hundred parsecs to several kiloparsecs. We have also compared the observed structure and kinematics between the nuclear regions of NGC 5248 and M100. Several similarities and differences are discussed, including the location of the peak emission regions on major and minor axes, and the spiral arm streaming motions. We find no kinematic evidence for the presence of a nuclear bar in NGC 5248.

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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society