Dissecting the Milky Way

6 - 10 November 2006

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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Our own Milky Way is the only galaxy which -- with foreseeable technology -- we can explore in 3 spatial dimensions, and even all 6 phase-space dimensions; and we can do so on a star-by-star basis. Such a detailed dissection of the Milky Way holds enormous potential for understanding its formation history, the stellar populations and the dark matter content. As the quintessential 'case study', the Milky Way as a cosmological testing ground provides a much needed complement and counterpoint to the extensive surveys of the galaxy population as a whole.

A set of ongoing projects, such as RAVE and SEGUE, are providing an order of magnitude leap -- by quality and quantity -- of the data on which such Milky Way studies can be based: multi-colour photometry, astrometry, radial velocities and spectral/chemical diagnostics. Taken by themselves, these projects hold enormous scientific promise; yet they are also stepping stones on the way to ESA's cornerstone mission GAIA. At the same time, such leaps in data quality need to be accompanied by extensive theoretical and modelling developments, to apply the data optimally to answer the astrophysically most interesting questions.

With many observational surveys underway and with GAIA 5 years out, the timing would be ideal for a workshop in which for the first time extensive emergent results from surveys such as SEGUE and RAVE are being discussed, and -- crucially -- being placed in a theoretical and modelling context. This workshop will bring together theorists and observers from the "Milky Way structure" community, in particular from RAVE, SEGUE and GAIA, to discuss results and specifically to help build the strongest possible community for the scientific exploitation of GAIA. With a theoretical approach both from the stellar dynamics and from the galaxy formation angle, the workshop will chart the path towards linking observations to the "big questions" in the years to come.

Invited participants include:

W. Evans, E. Tolstoy, P.T. de Zeeuw, K. Kuijken, R. Ibata, E. Grebel, G. Gilmore, M. Steinmetz, K. Freeman, S. Majewski, T. Beers, C. Bailer-Jones, C. Rockosi, J. Navarro, A. Ferguson, M. Perryman, V. Belokurov, K. Johnston, J. Binney, H. Morrison, A. Brown


30-45 minute talks: every day from 9:30-12:30; 15:00-16:30

No talks Friday afternoon (and possibly Wednesday afternoon)

Session topics:

-             Ongoing and planned surveys

-             Understanding the "smooth components" and the gravitational potential of the Milky Way

-             The phase-space structure of the solar neighbourhood

-             The connection of chemical abundances with structure

-             Global mapping of Milky Way Sub-structure

-             Mapping Milky Way satellites and local group

-             Do the Milky Way and M31 match cosmological expectations


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