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Deciphering the Milky Way: dark and visible matter at home and at the edge of the Universe

Dr. Elena D'Onghia
Universidad Wisconsin-Madison

July 17th, 2018


By providing information on distances and proper motions for one billion stars, the Gaia satellite allows us to investigate the major unsolved challenges in galaxy formation: the nature of dark matter, the origin of Galactic spiral activity and its relation to the bar, and more generally the history of the Milky Way. 
My research aims to develop a theoretical approach to modeling and exploiting the big data and address problems at the forefront of Galactic Dynamics at various scales. What is the origin of the spiral activity in the Milky Way? How are all of these perturbations to the structure of the Galaxy coupled to each other directly and through the dark-matter halo?  I will also present my ongoing work on statistical techniques of big-data analysis and advanced numerical simulations used to interpret the evolution of star clusters and discover streams in the stellar disk of the Milky Way.