RSAA Colloquia / Seminars / Feast-of-Facts: Thursday, 19 May 2016, 11:00-12:00; Duffield Lecture Theatre

Matthias Steinmetz

"Structure and formation of the Milky Way as seen by large spectroscopic surveys"

The Milky Way is the galaxy which in principle can be observed the best as it can be resolved into individual stars of which we can measure their 6D phase space coordinates as well as their chemical abundances. This allows us to disentangle the convoluted formation history of the Galaxy in terms of chemical as well as kinematical evolution. Practical studies have however been hindered by the fact that the Sun is sitting inside of the Milky Way; a complete census thus requires all sky surveys. In the past decade, several massive spectroscopic wide-area observing campaigns such as the RAVE, SEGUE, GALAH and APOGEE surveys have been initiated (and some of them even completed) providing us for a first time a systematic census of the stellar content of our Galaxy. I will present some of the results of these campaigns on the chemo-dynamical evolution of the Milky Way and conclusions we can draw on the formation of galaxies in general. I will provide an outlook on what the Gaia astrometric campaign will be able to achieve, in particular when combined with the next generation of spectroscopic surveys such as WEAVE and 4MOST.