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Study on Gravitational Instabilities and Galaxy Evolution


A recent study conducted by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) sheds light on the intricate relationship between gravitational instabilities and galaxy evolution. This comprehensive research was carried out under the leadership of K. Aditya, a postdoctoral fellow at the IIA.


The researchers scrutinized the stability levels of a sample of 175 galaxies extracted from the Spitzer Photometry and Accurate Rotation Curves (SPARC) database. The purpose was to examine the correlation between gravitational instabilities, star formation rates, gas fractions, and the observed morphologies of the galaxies.


For instance, if a galaxy from the SPARC database had a high rate of star formation, the study aimed to assess if this was influenced by its level of gravitational instability.


The Department of Science and Technology (DST) reported that the study focused on a few key parameters:

 Star Formation Rate

It was observed that spiral galaxies like the Milky Way have a higher median star formation rate compared to other types of galaxies.

 Stability Levels

Spiral galaxies were found to exhibit lower levels of stability, suggesting a dynamic and rapidly changing environment.

 Gas Fraction and Timescale

Spiral galaxies were also found to have a lower gas fraction and a smaller timescale for the growth of gravitational instabilities.


For example, the Milky Way, a spiral galaxy, demonstrates a high rate of star formation and lower levels of stability, aligning with the study's findings.


The study posits that gravitational instabilities in spiral galaxies convert a substantial amount of gas into stars quickly, thereby depleting their gas reservoirs.

 High Redshift Comparison

Additionally, the study compared the stability levels in nearby galaxies with those observed at high redshifts to understand the evolutionary pathways of galaxies better.


The research concludes that gravitational instabilities play a significant role in shaping the attributes of galaxies. It aids in understanding how these instabilities are connected to other key parameters like star formation, gas fraction, and galaxy evolution as a whole.