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On Spiral Nebulae, van Maanen et al.
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Robert S. Fritzius, Shade Tree Physics
Installed 28 September 2003. Latest update 08 Dec 2012. (See 2012 entries)
This page consists of a chronologically ordered bibliography of articles related to the astrometric
measurements of internal motions of stellar systems. (In essense, Adriaan van Maanen resurrected.)
The main area of concern has to do with, but is not limited to, spiral nebulae (currently called galaxies).
Abstracts, highlights, and thumbnail sketches of a number of the articles, are being added.
The compiler of this bibliography is fully aware that, at the present, about 97 percent of the
articles in print since 1935 (and especially those on the world wide web) dealing with van
Maanen's sixteen plus Mt. Wilson papers on internal motions of spiral nebulae (published in the
1916-1930 timeframe), paint him as being mistaken in his findings. In contrast to the majority
opinion against van Mannen, it can be seen that he was not a lone voice crying in the
wilderness. There may even come a need to resume astrometric studies on the internal
motions in spiral nebulae.
Key words: apparent radial velocity, photographs over time, proper motion,
redshift, spiral nebulae,
Bibliography with Abstracts, Highlights, and Thumbnail Sketches
A&A - Astronomy and Astrophysics
AJ - Astronomical Journal
ApJ - Astrophysical Journal
AN - Astronomische Nachrichten
ASPL - Astronomical Society of the Pacific Leaflets
BAN - Bulletin of the Astronomical Institute of the Netherlands
JRASC - The Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
MNRAS - Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Obs - The Observatory
PA - Popular Astronomy
PASP - Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Curtis, Heber D., "Proper Motions of the Nebulae," PASP, 27,
214-220 (1915) -
[This is a report on an early nebular proper motions study done using
photographs made with the Crossley Reflector at Lick Observatory.] The
average time between early and late plates was
13.85 years. [pp.214-215]
The general results [for average yearly proper motions], by classes are
1. Large, Diffuse Nebulosities: 0."036 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 10 objects.
2. Planetary and Annular Nebulae: 0."028 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 17 objects.
3. Very Small Nebulae (many show evidence of spiral character ): 0."040 - - - - 47 objects.
4. Large Spiral Nebulae: 0."033 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 66 objects.
The accuracy of the measures varies considerably, ... and would be much
higher were the old plates as uniformly sharp and good as the late plates.
A number of the better determined nebulae showing numerous condensations
were examined graphically for possible evidence of rotation, but none were
The average radial velocity of 73 planetary type nebulae . . . is thirty-nine
kilometers per second. This value, combined with the average proper motion
found, would make the average distance of this class of nebulae about one
thousand light years, a value which is not improbable, as all these objects
are Milky Way Phenomena. [p.217]
The radial velocities of very few spirals have been determined as yet; the
mean of SLIPHER'S results is 400 kilometers per second, a truly enormous
value, which may be considerably changed when a larger number have been
determined. On this basis and on the assumption that these objects are
moving truly at random in space, the average distance of the spirals is
of the order of ten thousand light years, a distance that many will regard
as too small. [pp. 217-218]
van Maanen, Adriaan, "List of Stars with Proper Motion Exceeding 0".50 Annually,"
ApJ, 41, 187 (1915) -
Porter, J.G., "Note on van Maanen's list of stars with motion exceeding half
a second annually," AJ, 29, 46 (1915) -
These two articles are included because investigations into nebular motions
hinged on the use of selecting slowly moving foreground stars as a reference
system. [Added 22 March 2010.]
Lampland, C. O., "Preliminary Measures of the Spiral Nebulae N.G.C. 5194
and N.G.C. 4254
for Proper Motion and Rotation," PA, 24, 667 (1916) -
Pease, Francis G., "The Spiral Nebula Messier 33," PASP, 28,
33-34 (1916) -
A spectroscopically determined radial velocity of -278 km/sec for a
bright knot some ten minutes of arc from the nucleus of M33, as compared
to the systemic [motion as a whole] radial velocity of -70 km/sec,
implies some degree of internal motions for the nebula. "Unfavorable
weather has prevented the obtaining of spectra of other knots to determine
whether there is a progressive change in type from the nucleus to the edge
and also whether or not the difference in velocity means a rotation." [See
the (1971) Gordon entry below.]
Van Maanen, A., Ritchey, G.W., Keeler, J.E., Perrine, C.D., Curtis, H.D.,
"Preliminary Evidence of Internal Motion in the Spiral Nebula Messier 101,"
210 (1916) -
[Plate VII is not scanned. NADS abstracts does not list van Maanen's
See van Maanen's Plate VII that shows his measurements of
Internal Motions in Messier 101. [This scanned in image,
found with Google.com, was tucked away
in the Astronomy section of
Science in the Twentieth Century webpages.
Professor Doel kindly disagrees with this compiler's contention that van
Maanen's internal motions of spiral nebulae were unfairly treated by his
Barnard, E. E., "The Proper Motion of the Great Nebula of Andromeda,"
AJ, 30, 175-176 (1917) -
"Though the distances are discordant, they show that no considerable
relative motion has occurred in the past eighty years."
Jeans, J. H., "Internal Motion in Spiral Nebulae," Obs, 40,
60 (1917) -
Kostinsky, S., "Probable Motions in the Spiral Nebula Messier 51 (Cannes
Venatici) Found With the Stereo-comparator. Preliminary Communication,"
MNRAS, 77, 233 (1917) -
Stereoscopic comparison of plates of Messier 51, taken in March 1896 and
in April 1916, found "almost indisputable displacements of some
characteristic knots lying on the spirals."... "Preliminary stereoscopic
measures on the above-mentioned plates of 36 single knots showed me that
their observed proper motions with regard to the centre of the nebula
seem to have a systematic character in the different parts. They led
me to the following preliminary conclusions: -