Components of the Milky Way and GAIA

J. Binney
2002 EAS Publications Series  
The GAIA mission will produce an extraordinary database from which we should be able to deduce not only the Galaxy's current structure, but also much of its history, and thus cast a powerful light on the way in which galaxies in general are made up of components, and of how these formed. The database can be fully exploited only by fitting to it a sophisticated model of the entire Galaxy. Steady-state models are of fundamental importance even though the Galaxy cannot be in a steady state. A very
more » ... teady state. A very elaborate model of the Galaxy will be required to reproduce the great wealth of detail that GAIA will reveal. A systematic approach to model-building will be required if such a model is to be successfully constructed, however. The natural strategy is to proceed through a series of models of ever increasing elaborateness, and to be guided in the specification of the next model by mismatches between the data and the current model. An approach to the dynamics of systems with steady gravitational potentials that we call the 'torus programme' promises to provide an appropriate framework within which to carry out the proposed modelling programme. The basic principles of this approach have been worked out in some detail and are summarized here. Some extensions will be required before the GAIA database can be successfully confronted. Other modelling techniques that might be employed are briefly examined.
doi:10.1051/eas:2002023 fatcat:axdcy36tebgmnmzaolk74zgcei