Institute of Astronomy

The HERMES project -- reconstructing the ancient Galaxy

SpeakerTalk DateTalk Series
Joss Bland-Hawthorn (Federation Fellow, University of Sydney; Leverhulme Visiting Professor & Merton Fellow, University of Oxford)6 May 2010Institute of Astronomy Colloquia


The first building blocks of our Galaxy were likely to have been laid down in the first 300
million years after the Big Bang. The first stars that came into being in those early
structures have long since disappeared but they may have left behind unique chemical
signatures in today's stellar populations. Over the next 13 billion years, the Galaxy grew
through a series of mergers and acquisitions into the corporate giant that surrounds us today
-- 100 billion stars and counting. This was undoubtedly a very complex process that we are far
from understanding even with the most sophisticated computer simulations. All stars show
evidence of chemical signatures that say something about their past. In this talk, I will
describe the basic motivation of the HERMES survey which will attempt to reconstruct the early
Galaxy history through the technique of chemical tagging. The HERMES instrument is a
major new $10M facility at the AAT that will see first light in 2012.


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