Astrophysics (Index)About

tidal arm

(tidal tail)
(arm of gas and potentially stars leading from a galaxy)

A galaxy's tidal arm (or tidal tail) is a "tail" on a galaxy of gas and stars, in some cases extending lengths greater than the diameter of the galaxy. Such a galaxy is called a tidal-tail galaxy. These are stars pulled out of the galaxy by a nearby galaxy by its galactic tide, a process called tidal stripping. Such a tail is a sign of a galaxy merger, e.g., if no other galaxy is near enough to produce it. Such a merger can instigate star formation, including within the tail: on the order of a tenth of such a galaxy's star formation can be within such a tail.

The term tidal stream is used for similar structures drawn by tidal forces from clouds or stellar clusters.

There has been a theory that "ordinary" spiral arms are the result of tidal interaction with other galaxies and could be termed tidal arms.

Further reading:

Referenced by pages:
galactic tide
galaxy merger
polar-ring galaxy
stellar stream