Using big data to understand galaxies in our neighborhood
How galaxies form and evolve remains one of the cornerstone questions in our understanding of the universe on grand scales. While much progress has been made by studying galaxy populations out to high redshifts, there is also much to be learned from near-field cosmology ? that is, investigating nearby galaxies in detail using observations of resolved stars. I will highlight some recent results from several projects that are providing new insights into the structure and formation history of the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds. First, I will discuss how I am mapping the stellar halos of the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds and thereby uncovering clues to their hierarchical buildup. Second, I will summarize results from the APOGEE survey that, in combination with high-resolution simulations, are revealing the chemical structure, evolution and dynamical history of the Milky Way disk. I will end with a brief summary of my recent work with the NOAO Data Lab to create an all-sky catalog of NOAO archive images (the NOAO Source Catalog or NSC).