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Stellar and Galactic physics

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Our galaxy and the magellanic clouds
John Carpenter & Robert Hurt/2MASS Project

The scientific themes of Stellar and Galactic Physics team comprise two aspects: on the one hand the study of the formation, evolution and internal structure of stars and the associated physical and chemical mechanisms, and on the other hand the study of the formation, structure and evolution of our Galaxy and the galaxies of the Local Group.

The team explores the evolution of stars and their associated environment, as well as the physical and chemical mechanisms that drive this evolution. It studies the phases of matter ejection that form circumstellar envelopes, in particular for recently formed hot stars and cold stars at the end of their evolution. The basic processes include stellar oscillation and rotation, magnetic fields, hydrodynamic shocks and flows, the condensation of solid dust, and the emission of various types of radiation. The team is involved in mathematical analysis and numerical modelling. It obtains observations using large observing platforms at visible, infra-red, and radio wavelengths, especially at high temporal, spectral and angular resolution. It also studies the kinematic and chemical structure of the Milky Way Galaxy and nearby galaxies. The goal is to understand how the large structures of the Galaxy (bulge, disc, halo) formed and evolved, and to retrace the history of the formation of stars and of their dynamic evolution within the Galaxy. For this, parameters of large numbers of stars need to be measured, such as their parallaxes and proper movements with Hipparcos, and later with GAIA, as well as the abundances of various key elements (Fe, Li, C, NR, O, Ba, U…) and radial velocities from high-resolution spectra obtained with powerful instruments like UVES and GIRAFFE at the VLT.