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Galactic Archeology - past, present, and future

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Simon Hodgkin.

I will discuss the detailed study of the Milky Way stellar populations in the context of cosmological galaxy formation – an approach sometimes known as Galactic Archeology. The selection and launch of Gaia has re-invigorated the interest in the study of the Milky Way as a galaxy. However, although Gaia will give exquisite information on the stellar distances and their on-sky motions stellar parameters will be known for only a small number of the stars, and, worse, elemental abundances only for the very brightest portion of the stars. Why is this important? Stars tell the history of their host galaxy. They are time capsules that retain information about the chemical composition in the gas they formed from. As elements are produced in different stars on different time scales they give the timing of events. Only spectra of stars allow us to obtain the elemental abundances. Such spectra can be obtained with eas from ground-based observations. For this reason a number of heavily multiplexed instruments are currently being constructed and several surveys are already under way to obtain the relevant spectral data.

During the talk I will review past findings, current status, and what the on-going and future major surveys will hold. I will especially discuss 4MOST and also high-light a few non-Galactic topics we will cover with 4MOST.

This talk is part of the Institute of Astronomy Colloquia series.

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