Research Division Seminar
What happened to the Milky Way 8 billion years ago?
The formation and evolution of galaxies across cosmic time proceeds in different phases, paced by their internal evolution and external factors like gas accretion and mergers. The complex and always changing interplay between these mechanisms drives the assembly of galaxies and the physical conditions for star formation, which leaves observable imprints on the stellar populations. Large astrometric and spectroscopic surveys (e.g. Gaia, APOGEE, GALAH) collect the signatures of these past events in the building history of the Milky Way. However, simulations and models are necessary to decode the data. In this talk, I will present results from a series of hydrodynamical simulations of Milky Way-like galaxies, both in isolation and in cosmological context using the VINTERGATAN simulation. I will show the crucial role of mergers, and of the end of the merger phase, in forming the thick and thin Galactic discs, and making the transition between the two. I will then nuance this conclusion by explaining why the secular consumption of gas enables a similar transition, as well as the emergence of spirals, without any external factors.
About the talk