The Milky Way System and its Stars

The Milky Way is the only galaxy in the Universe that we can observe star-by-star: the 3D positions of the stars, their 3D motions, their ages and their element composition. The Milky Way also happens to be a very typical large spiral galaxy, most stars in the universe are formed in galaxies of similar mass and size: so, lessons we learn from the Milky Way tell us about galaxy formation and evolution in general.

At MPIA, we try to map and understand our Galaxy under several different angles. We take the Milky Way as


In practice, we develop and use a broad range of tools for this:



This is a particularly exciting time to study the Milky Way, as we have be producing and exploiting new transformational data:

  • The Gaia mission has opened up the 3D (or 6D) mapping the Galaxy

  • Our spectroscopic surveys, especially SDSS and 4MOST, will produce millions of stellar spectra across the entire sky.

  • Photometric surveys, from PanSTARRS to LSST/Rubin map the Galaxy in unprecedented ways.


Much of this work arises from the close collaboration among our groups <left> at the institute, and across the world.


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