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Tales from Tails - Science Enabled by Large Scale Stellar Surveys

By Kathryn Johnston

Astronomy Spring Colloquia April 6, 2010 Tuesday, 4:30pm-5:30pm, Peyton Hall auditorium:

The tremendous increase in the number of stars catalogued in surveys in the recent past have allowed us to probe the edges of stellar distributions in space, velocity and chemistry. We have found giants streams of stars surrounding nearby galaxies; high velocity stars presumably shot out from the Galactic Center; a new population of Galactic satellites; and anomalies in stellar abundance distributions. Future surveys promise a similar order-of-magnitude increase in numbers in the next decade. In this talk, I will review what these seemingly insignificant tails to spatial-chemo-dynamical stellar distributions might tell us about how galaxies form and evolve, and the structure of the dark matter halos that surround them.