Star Talk: Mapping the Milky Way in the Age of Gaia
Catch the ASX’s next Star Talk on October 29 at 5 pm! The guest speaker is Dr. Joshua Speagle, a Banting & Dunlap Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Statistical Sciences, David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, and the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto.
Abstract: “For as long as we have kept records, humans have argued about the nature of the lights in the night sky,” writes Dr. Speagle. “We now know that many of these are stars inside our own galaxy — the Milky Way — as well as galaxies outside of our own. While we can directly observe what other galaxies look like, we still have only a rough picture of what our own galaxy looks like for one simple reason: we are currently embedded within it! In this talk, I will first describe some of the history behind the discovery of the Milky Way and discuss why it’s so difficult to piece together what our own Galaxy looks like. I will then talk about how modern surveys of stellar light like Gaia are revolutionizing the field and the new pathways they have created to tackle these problems. I will then describe some of the ways my collaborators and I are taking advantage of these data along with modern advances in computing to map out the Galaxy both near and far (including the creation of an interactive “stellar flow” map of >100M stars!).”