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Contents Page: Volume 14, Number 2

The Nature of Boxy/Peanut Spiral Galaxies: Overview and New Results

M. Bureau
K. C. Freeman

Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories, Institute of Advanced Studies, The Australian National University, Private Bag, Weston Creek P.O., ACT 2611, Australia,


The formation mechanism of boxy/peanut-shaped bulges in spiral galaxies has been a problem for many years. We briefly review here the possible formation scenarios of boxy/peanut bulges, concentrating on both the bar-buckling and accretion hypotheses, and then describe an observational program aimed at testing those various theories and studying the vertical structure of edge-on bars. Our program includes optical long-slit spectroscopy, HI line-imaging, near-infrared imaging, and multi-band optical imaging. New spectroscopic results (both optical and HI) are presented on seven galaxies including five boxy/peanut-bulge spirals. Based on Kuijken & Merrifield's (1995) idea for detecting edge-on bars, we argue that these observations constitute a strong case in favour of the bar-buckling mechanism to form boxy/peanut-shaped bulges, but they also raise many questions and prompt for more detailed modelling to be made. The implications of the observations concerning the determination of rotation curves and of the physical conditions in bulges are also discussed.

Keywords: Galaxies: Formation -- Galaxies: Evolution -- Galaxies: Kinematics and Dynamics -- Galaxies: Structure -- Galaxies: Spiral -- Instabilities

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