Stellar dynamics and dark matter

Large Magellanic Cloud with lines illustrating the motions of the stars orbiting the Galaxy. Made using Gaia data and Line Integral Convolution.Stellar dynamics, or the study of the motions of stars, is a powerful tool for understanding the Universe. It can be used to probe the dark matter content of galaxies and to understand the evolutionary history of galaxies, including our own Milky Way. We use a range of techniques, including N-body simulations and analytical modelling, to provide new insights into fundamental dynamical processes and to interpret observed data. 

 We are developing new dynamical models of the Milky Way, which we use to interpret the data obtained from a rich variety of observational surveys. The most important of these is the Gaia astrometric survey, and members of the department have played key roles in processing and analysing this data, discovering new and exciting things about the internal dynamics of our own galaxy, and the galaxies that have collided with it.

On smaller scales, our detailed study of dwarf and satellite galaxies in the Local Group may allow us to understand the nature of the non-luminous dark matter, which makes up about 25% of the mass budget of the Universe.

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