AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 46 Origins of Stellar Populations in Spheroids
Invited, Monday, January 10, 2005, 3:40-5:10pm, Town and Country

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[46.02] Our Cannibalistic Galaxy

S.R. Majewski (Univ. Virginia)

It is now evident that our Milky Way has cannibalistic tendencies. Recently found examples of satellite star systems being digested by our galaxy demonstrate that Milky Way-like spiral galaxies continue to grow through the piecemeal accumulation of mass from smaller neighbors, as predicted by Cold Dark Matter (CDM) models of structure formation. Cross-sections of the Milky Way halo reveal it to be networked with long-lived, coherent debris streams of stars and star clusters that attest to its accretive formation. These dynamically cold streams, created from the tidal disruption of satellite star systems, in turn provide useful tools to explore both the nature of Galactic dwarf satellites as well as the the dark matter distribution of the Milky Way; the results of such work, however, yield some unexpected results compared to current CDM models. (Research described has been supported by NASA/JPL, the National Science Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Research Corporation, and the F.H. Levinson Fund of the Peninsula Community Foundation.)

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© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.