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
Are magnetic fields the scaffolds of galaxies? Potential
Closing the gap: Tracers of the interstellar medium in GALAH spectra Potential
Computational Astrophysics Laboratory Current
Connecting the Galactic and Extragalactic with MUSE: a comparison of integrated and resolved stellar populations Potential
Dancing with the Stars: Rotation periods and rotational velocities for the open clusters Messier 67 and Ruprecht 147 Potential
Data Archives Current
Do star clusters have a mid-life crisis? The age gap between open and globular clusters in the Milky Way Potential
Dust in the Milky Way Galaxy Potential
Exploring Galactic magnetism through radio polarization Potential
Extended Main-sequence Turn-off in Galactic Open Clusters Potential
Fyris Current
Gas motions and excitation in edge-on barred galaxies Potential
Just another brick in the halo 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
Pulsars as a probe of the ionised gas in the Milky Way Potential
Satellite galaxies as probe of structure formation in our cosmic backyard Potential
Signatures of planet ingestion among binary stars Potential
Simulated Observations of the Magnetic Fields of the Milky Way Potential
SkyMapper Southern Sky Survey Current
Taking the Temperature of a galaxy Potential
Taking the temperature of red giant stars in Globular clusters Potential
The chemistry of M dwarfs from colours Potential
The dinosaurs of the Milky Way: high precision chemical abundance measurements of ancient star clusters Potential
The Galactic ASKAP Survey of Atomic Gas structure and temperature of the Magellanic System Potential
The Oldest Stars in the Universe Potential
The Origin of the High Galactic Latitudes Asymmetry in the Milky Way Magnetic Field Structure Potential
The ultraviolet excess of hot stars: there or not? Potential
Understanding the gamma-ray emission from the Galactic Centre’s giant outflow Potential
Uniting optical and infrared spectroscopy with GALAH and APOGEE Potential
What new information can we extract from stellar spectra? Potential
Where does Galactic antimatter come from? Potential
Why does the inner Galaxy glow in gamma-rays and radio emission?: dark matter, ancient pulsars, neither or both? Potential