The galaxy dynamics group at the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute studies the dynamics of galaxies, including the Milky Way, to understand their formation and evolution. Our main approach is using supercomputer simulations to model the cooling of gas inside dark matter halos leading to star formation, and supernovae explosions. One of the key issues we are currently working on is the formation of nuclear star clusters that are often present at the centres of galaxies and their relation to supermassive black holes millions of times more massive than the Sun. Observations have found that supermassive black holes are intimately related to the bulges within which they reside so we are also interested in understanding bulge formation, and in particular the bulge of the Milky Way. The advent of the Gaia satellite will soon provide us with a wealth of data with which to study the Milky Way in general. We will be comparing simulations with these data to understand the formation of its bulge, thin and thick disc, and the dark matter halo within which all these are immersed.
Further details about the Galaxy Dynamics Group and its work can be found at the group’s webpage.