My research group studies the formation, structure and evolution of galaxies, in particular by looking at our own Milky Way Galaxy, together with nearby galaxies in the Local Group. It is believed that these objects form at least in part through the gradual agglomeration of many smaller dwarf galaxies. The process and observable consequences of this hierarchical structure formation are a major focus of the group. We are also part of several broader collaborations on this work.
Broadly, our work can be split into the following topics:
- Galactic Cannibalism How are individual satellite galaxies torn apart by the Milky Way?; what happens to the debris?; what are the observable signatures of cannibalized galaxies?
- Galactic Archaeology We believe hundreds of smaller galaxies may have been cannibalized by the Milky Way in the past; what can we learn about the history of our own galaxy from the collective signatures of these multiple events?
- Dark Matter Halos Every galaxy is thought to be encompassed and surrounded by dark matter that we cannot detect directly; how can we use debris from satellite galaxies to learn about these invisible halos of galaxies?
- The Stellar Clouds Project Debris from the destruction of satellite galaxies can take many morphological forms. What are these different forms telling us about the events that formed them? What are they telling us about the massive galaxy that destroyed the satellite?
- Stellar Populations What can the type of stars that different structures contain tell us about their histories?