Principal Investigator: Dr. Dana Casetti
A dynamical description of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, is possible only when the full, 3-component velocity vector of a given object is measured. For decades, only one component of this vector — namely that along the line of sight — could be measured for statistically sound samples and with reliable accuracy. The remaining two components, known as transverse velocities, posed a challenge because they rely on the precise measurement of extremely small sky angles. These quantities are known to the astronomer as parallax and proper motion. There are very few research groups in the world that have the means and the know-how to tackle these measurements in a meaningful way. A revolution is this field is happening now with the European Space Agency mission Gaia: the amount and the precision of such measurements is astounding; furthermore, the enabling of such measurements beyond the Gaia limit (in depth and resolution) is also formidable. Our task at SCSU is to use the Gaia data for both tasks: kinematical data analysis and enabling further such measurements using ground-based and HST-based data.