galaxy

Galactic archaeology

About

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.

Projects

Ambitious students will investigate optimal ways to measure the stellar properties (eg Teff, age, mass) and chemical composition of this immense amount of data.

In this project you will use existing and new data to understand the nature of filamentary structure in galaxies and how they relate to magnetic fields.

Student intake

Open for Bachelor, Honours, PhD students

People

In the spectra of distant stars, we can often find a series of absorption features, such as Diffuse Interstellar Bands (DIBs) or those of neutral atomic potassium, K I. Although the exact carriers of DIBs are still a matter of debate, various candidates have been proposed over the years.

Student intake

Open for Bachelor students

People

The Computational Astrophysics Laboratory, or COALA, is a high-performance computing (HPC) system that is available to theorists and astronomers at RSAA. It is used for data analysis, numerical simulations, visualisation for public outreach, and for research training at the school.

Connecting the Galactic and Extragalactic with MUSE through a comparison of integrated and resolved stellar populations.

Student intake

Open for Honours, PhD students

People

By analysing spectroscopic data from the GALAH Survey and photometric information from the K2 satellite mission, you will examine the relationship between photometric rotation periods and spectroscopic rotational velocities for stars in the open clusters M67 and Ruprech 147.

Student intake

Open for Bachelor students

People

Articles

The Australian Research Council has announced that the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics has won funding for two prestigious Future Fellowships.

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ANU will play a major role in the Taipan galaxy survey, which will for the first time measure the current expansion rate of the Universe with one per cent precision.

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Stars around our galaxy previously thought to be from merged dwarf galaxies are likely to have once been part of the Milky Way before being pulled away by an invading satellite galaxy

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