Astrophysics (index)about

spiral arm

(long, winding visible structure within a spiral galaxy)

A spiral galaxy's spiral arm is one of the long structures visible with stars that wind around, forming the spiral. They lead from a central bulge or bar outward toward the edge of the galaxy's disk. They typically host star formation, thus include very bright, early, blue stars, which is what makes them stand out when the galaxy is observed.

A grand design spiral galaxy appears to have two symmetric spiral arms. Our limited view of the Milky Way (from the inside) has led to challenges in determining its arm structure. It is currently thought to have four major arms. Among the names used:

The Sun resides in a smaller arm called the Orion Arm or Orion Spur.


Referenced by:
core collapse supernova
Gould's Belt
grand design spiral galaxy
Milky Way
open cluster
Scutum-Centaurus Arm
spiral galaxy
stellar population