Galactic archaeology

Like traditional archaeologists, who study human history by investigating the remnants that can be excavated and observed today, galactic archaeologists trace the history and formation of the Milky Way galaxy from detailed observations of the stars, gas and other structures that can be observed from Earth.  

Researchers at RSAA work on a wide range of areas and problems within this theme, including:

  • understanding the chemical and dynamical properties of different stellar populations in the Galaxy
  • searching for extremely metal-poor stars, which include the oldest stars that formed early in the history of the Galaxy
  • investigating the nature and origins of globular clusters
  • searching for satellite galaxies of the Milky Way 
  • mapping the structure of the galaxy, including stellar streams and substructure formed during the accretion of neighbouring galaxies
  • studying the properties of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, dwarf galaxies that are relatively nearby neighbours to our Galaxy.

The Southern Sky Survey that is being carried out by the SkyMapper telescope will be instrumental to scientists studying the properties of the Milky Way, since it will provide a census of over 5 billion stars in the Galaxy. The instrument and survey design will allow astronomers to derive measurements of metallicity, gravity, temperature, and variability for many of these stars, and to continue to map the structure of the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds in increasing detail.

Project Status
Archaeology of the Milky Way Potential
Biogenic elements in stars harbouring planets Potential
Calibrating SkyMapper and the local density of white dwarfs Potential
Characterising target selection effects in stellar surveys Potential
Computational Astrophysics Laboratory Current
Data Archives Current
Finding Young stars from their Chromospheric activity with the FunnelWeb survey Potential
Fyris Current
Gas motions and excitation in edge-on barred galaxies Potential
How does the Milky Way get new gas to continue its voracious habit of star formation? Potential
Investigating multiple populations in Globular clusters. Potential
Magnetic field amplification in accretion discs - the disc dynamo Potential
Magnetic fields in the Magellanic System Potential
Magnetism in the Galactic Centre Potential
Mapping the Magellanic periphery Potential
Measuring the inclination of the Large Magellanic Cloud with the Dark Energy Camera Potential
Metal SLUG - Developing a tool for stochastic nucleosynthesis Potential
Multiple Stellar Populations from a Single Galaxy Spectrum Potential
Nearby probes of the distant halo of the Milky Way: sub-dwarf M stars Current
Nucleosynthesis and ejection process: assisting in chemical tagging for the HERMES project Completed
Probing the lagging halo of the Milky Way Potential
Reconstructing the accretion history of Andromeda Potential
Searching for stellar streams in the outer Milky Way halo Potential
SkyMapper Southern Sky Survey Current
Studying the outer regions of dwarf galaxies Potential
Supernova feedback and star formation Potential
The Galactic Centre Gamma-Ray Excess: Signature of Dark Matter or Ancient Stars? Potential
The Kepler/K2 field: bridging stellar and Galactic astronomy Potential
The origin of metal rich globular clusters Potential
The role of turbulence for the origin of stellar masses Potential
The Stromlo Milky Way Satellite Survey: Satellite galaxies as probe of structure formation in our cosmic backyard Potential
The world's largest turbulence simulations Potential
Thick disks in other spiral galaxies Potential
Tracing the evolutionary connection between the Milky Way Galaxy's stellar populations using fluorine Potential
Understanding the abundance spread in star clusters Potential
Understanding the Milky Way’s giant radio lobes Potential
Unveiling the globular cluster system of Andromeda with the Hubble Space Telescope Potential
Using THOR's Hammer to Measure the Temperature of the Milky Way Potential