We have imaged a sample of 20 spiral galaxies in Hα and in the near-infrared K band (2.2 μm), in order to determine the location and strength of star formation in these objects with respect to perturbations in the old stellar population. We have found that star formation rates are significantly enhanced in the vicinity of K-band arms. We have also found that this enhancement in star formation rate in arm regions correlates well with a quantity that measures the relative strengths of shocks in arms. Assuming that the K-band light is dominated by emission from the old stellar population, this shows that density waves trigger star formation in the vicinity of spiral arms.
- Galaxies: ISM
- Galaxies: fundamental parameters
- Galaxies: spiral
- Galaxies: stellar content
- Infrared: galaxies