Formation and evolution of double-barred galaxies
The general picture of galaxy formation and evolution includes bars as the main drivers of the internal secular processes affecting the lifetime of disc galaxies. Bars are present in a very high fraction of all the spiral galaxies found at different redshifts, and the processes inducing their formation or the effects they may have on their host galaxies are still under discussion. Particularly interesting is the case of double-barred galaxies: at least 20% of all spirals have turned out to host not only one but two bars embedded in them. These two bars appear randomly oriented and independently rotating. The formation of such a double-barred system has been the goal of several numerical simulations and the results obtained so far can be roughly divided in two big groups: gas-rich and gas-free formation scenarios. In the same way a single bar does, double-bar systems might also promote gas inflow and contribute to the internal secular evolution. Moreover, they have also been proposed as a very efficient mechanism for the feeding of the active galactic nuclei.
All the previous theoretical hypothesis on the formation and evolution of double-barred galaxies have not been tested due to the lack of observational works focused on these systems. With this motivation, during my PhD I observed a sample of double-barred galaxies in order to fully analyse their kinematics and stellar populations. Among the most interesting results, it is important to highlight the discovery of the sigma-hollows, which are the only known kinematical signature of the presence of inner bars, or the fact that inner bars are younger and more metal-rich than their surrounding regions. In this talk I will present the whole work and discuss the results in the framework of the different formation scenarios and the role that these inner bars may be playing in the evolution of their host galaxies.
About the talk
University of St Andrews