The Stromlo Milky Way Satellite Survey: Satellite galaxies as probe of structure formation in our cosmic backyard

The Stromlo Milky Way Satellite (SMS) Survey is a critical endeavour to investigate whether the predictions of standard cold dark matter (CDM) cosmology are consistent with the observed matter distribution in the Milky Way halo. It is the deepest, most extended search for optically elusive satellite galaxies and star clusters to date, covering the entire Southern hemisphere. The primary objective of our program is to study the baryonic and dark matter components of the newly detected stellar overdensities providing a deeper insight into the ultra-faint satellite galaxy phenomenon and stringent observational constraints for CDM theory. 

Inspired by the success of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey project to find optically elusive Milky Way satellite galaxies in the Northern hemisphere, A/Prof Helmut Jerjen from the Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics assembled a specialist team of international scientists, observers and theoreticians that carry out the deepest, most extended search for Milky Way satellites ever done over the next five years covering the entire 20,000 square degrees of the Southern hemisphere. They will analyse 150 Terabytes of digital images from our state-of-the-art Australian National University SkyMapper telescope using high performance computers and sophisticated data mining tools. Extensive observations of newly detected satellite galaxies with the most powerful optical, infrared, and radio telescopes in the world will follow to obtain an unprecedented physical picture of the Milky Way satellite galaxy population and to find stringent observational constraints for cosmology to uncover possible flaws in the Cold Dark Matter theory on galaxy scales.

The SMS team is looking for enthusiastic Honours, Masters and PhD students with strong background in Maths and Physics, who would enjoy working with a group of world-class experts on some of the most fundamental questions in near-field cosmology.