Why study the Milky Way?

  • It is a very typical galaxy (e.g., by mass)
  • It is our galaxy (e.g., proximity allows for detailed observations) 

Observations can tell us the probability distribution of a star's orbit, age, and composition, for every star in the Galaxy.


The main questions we address on the different aspects of our research are:

  • Did the Milky Way form inside out?
  • Why is the disk as large and thin/thick as it is observed?
  • Do stars stay on their birth orbits?
  • How was the Milky Way's stellar halo assembled?


We use a number of powerful tools that, when combined, produce a comprehensive and detailed picture of our galaxy today:

E.g., Pan-STARRS1, provide positions and motions, which can be extrapolated into orbits. [more]
E.g. SDSS-IV, provide stellar parameters, ages, and abundances. [more]
Characterize the Milky Way gravitational potential based on stellar positions and motions. [more]
Give a fuller understanding of consequential factors and processes in the formation and subsequent evolution of the Galaxy. [more]

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