Galactic Archeology Special Session at AAS 229

News article posted on by Tom Barclay

At the upcoming American Astronomical Society meeting in Grapevine, Tx there will be a special session on Galactic Archeology with K2 and Kepler. This is an exciting area of astrophysics that will only continue to grow over the coming years. The organizer of the event is Jennifer Johnson from Ohio State University and the session will take place in the Grapevine B room of the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center and starts at 10am. The astract of the session below.

The exquisite lightcurves of the Kepler and K2 missions have been an unexpected boon to the field of near-field cosmology. Ages and evolutionary states can now be derived for field red giants, by combining asteroseismology with spectroscopic data. Red giants, far more luminous than the main-sequence turnoff stars usually used, allow us to probe the evolution of the whole Galaxy. Originally these investigations were restricted to a single line of sight of the Kepler field. With the failure of two of the reaction wheels and the start of the K2 program to observe many fields along the ecliptic, we now probe distinctly different Galactic populations, including the inner and outer disks, the bulge-halo interface, and far more of the Galactic halo. In K2, the Galactic Archaeology Program has been awarded the second largest number of targets, with over 50,000 stars targeted to understand the formation of the Milky Way. The data from the Kepler field has already been used to calibrate the largest age map yet made of the Galaxy, and we are just beginning to explore this vast dataset. The ongoing release of Kepler/K2 light curves and the public availability of follow-up spectra for thousands of targets over the last year alone indicates that this is an ideal time to discuss the most recent breakthroughs in the rapidly evolving field of Galactic archeologyIn this special session, we will discuss the extensive follow-up work underway to make Galactic archaeology possible, discuss how Kepler/K2 data in stellar clusters reveals the history of stellar activity, and present the pioneering results of Galactic archaeology. These include investigations of the age spread in the Galactic halo, examination of the vertical and radial age gradients in the thick and thin disk, measurement of the timescales for chemical evolution, calibration of age indicators for even larger age maps, and discussion of synergies with Gaia.