The Galactic Group studies objects in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies. Galactic topics include studies of the nature of the interstellar medium (ISM), the different populations of stars that inhabit the galaxy (their various locations, ages, metallicities, and motions). Cosmic rays are produced in the Galactic center, where a large black hole is known to energetically be devouring stars and gas, another area of active research here at NMSU.
The oldest stars can be thought of as the frozen relics of the formation epoch. We study the stellar populations which comprise globular clusters, open clusters, the Galaxy Disk, and the Galaxy Halo for clues to the formation and evolution of the Galaxy.
The ISM is both a reservoir of gas for future generations of stars and the repository of gas ejected from stars, either by the winds they produce, or the catastophic expulsion of gas from supernovae. ISM gas can be studied in emission lines from gas heated by hot stars, the reflection of light from stars, and/or the absorption of star light. The properties of the very local ISM (where the influence of the sun’s “solar wind” diminishes and the “real” ISM begins), are being studied from Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft data.
Members of the Galactic Group include the following: