The Milky Way constitutes a testbed for studies of the physics and evolution of galaxies. The analysis of the chemical composition of its various stellar components (bulge, disc, halo) constrains the properties of the stars that progressively enriched the galactic gas with chemical elements heavier than helium ; it also helps to reconstruct the history of star formation and gas accretion from the intergalactic medium into the dark matter halo of the Milky Way. Along with those “traditional” studies, our group recently started to investigate the role of the various dynamical processes leading to the vertical heating of the disk and the radial motions of stars and gas, while they interact with the inhomogeneities in the gravitational field. The new generation of models that account for these dynamical effects will serve to intepret the large amount of data from forthcoming observational surveys, in particular those expected from the european space mission GAIA.
Permanent researcher: Nikos Prantzos, Matthew Lehnert