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April General Meeting

Karrie Gilbert and Galactic Archaeology

David Smith


April 28 general meeting featured presentation is:“The Life of a Galactic Archaeologist: Learning about Galaxy Formation through Studies of the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies” by Karrie Gilbert.

In the current paradigm of galaxy formation, large galaxies are built up through mergers of smaller galaxies. There are two main ways to test theories of galaxy formation: (1) by observing galaxies at high redshift that are in the process of forming, and (2) by investigating the properties of fully formed galaxies and looking for fossil evidence of past merger events. Since stellar halos of galaxies are believed to be formed through mergers of galaxies and are sparse environments, they provide a unique opportunity for studying galaxy formation. There are only two large spiral galaxies that we can study in detail with our current instruments: our own Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy. She will discuss what current observations of the stellar halos of these two galaxies are teaching us about galaxy formation.

Karrie says, “The sources of inspiration that shape our futures can be strange — I grew up in Ohio, reading fiction voraciously and exclusively, until I read James Michener’s ‘Space’. This book sparked my interest in astronomy, and started me down the road to a career in this exciting field.”

Karrie obtained her undergraduate degree in Astronomy and Physics from the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and then moved out to Santa Cruz to pursue her PhD. She currently works with her advisor Puragra Guhathakurta on studies of the Andromeda galaxy, with the goal of placing tighter observational constraints on theories of galaxy formation.

Outside of astronomy, she enjoys the Sierras: rock climbing, hiking, and as much downhill skiing (including racing) as she can manage. She also plays the piano.


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