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Stars and stellar populations

Understanding different stellar populations within our galaxy (and nearby galaxies) can tell us much about the history of our local Universe. 


Galactic archaeology - mapping the stellar populations of the Milky Way

Researchers include:  Thomas Bensby, Sofia Feltzing, Nils Ryde

Understanding how spiral galaxies like our Milky Way formed and evolved to its current state is a major goal in galactic research, and requires two key ingredients:

  • A complete picture of the structure and composition of the galaxy
  • Theoretical models of how galaxies form and evolve.

There exists a flurry of models that can be tuned to fit the observational constraints. However, for the Milky Way, the galaxy that can be studied in greatest detail, large portions is extremely poorly mapped. It contains a plethora of exotic structures (rings, warps, streams), whose nature and origins we do not understand.

Our aim here is to unveil the nature of the Milky Way stellar structures and populations using detailed elemental abundance data from large spectroscopic surveys of the Milky Way (the Gaia-ESO survey and upcoming WEAVE and 4MOST surveys). Together with the astrometric data from the Gaia satellite, this forms a goldmine of unprecedented scale and quality for Milky Way studies, and will allow us to explore and map the Milky Way  in a multi-dimensional space consisting of distances, velocities, detailed elemental abundances, and stellar ages.


The Origin of the Galactic Center

Researchers include:  Nils Ryde, Ross Church, Alessandra Mastrobuono Battisti, Abbas Askar, Florent Renaud, Oscar Agertz, Brian Thorsbro

- More information coming soon -


Surfaces of planet-hosting stars

Researchers include:  Dainis Dravins

Spectra across spatially resolved stellar surfaces are obtained from exoplanet transits, revealing what successively becomes hidden behind the planet.  Data are simulated by hydrodynamic model atmospheres, with the aim to disentangle stellar variability from the small radial-velocity signal that could identify Earth-like exoplanets orbiting solar-type stars.

Illustration showing how stellar surfaces can be studied.
The Andromeda Galaxy. Astronomical image from S.E.O.