We are all aware that our Galaxy, the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy. Where are we (Earth and our Sun) amongst the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy? I will touch upon the aspects that have led us to our current understanding of the Milky Way. Measurements of stars and nebulae along with an understanding of galaxy dynamics have proved to be immensely useful in building this picture. Even today, we do not know all the structural features of our home galaxy. It remains a challenge as we try to fully understand our Galaxy whilst being constrained to a specific location within it. I will also discuss the currently working GAIA mission whose ambition is to build the 3D structure of our Galaxy by measuring distances to a large number of stars very precisely.
About the Speaker:
Sarita Vig is a Professor at the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), Thiruvananthapuram. She completed her PhD from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai in 2005 which was followed by a postdoctoral stint at the Arcetri Observatory, Florence, Italy till 2008. She was PI of a project at IIT-Madras till 2010, when she joined IIST. Her research interests include early phases in massive star formation, Galactic clusters, Interstellar medium, and Galactic structure. She teaches astrophysics to students pursuing their Bachelors and Masters degrees at IIST. She is also interested in astronomy outreach activities and loves to talk to people about the cosmos.