Exploring the Galaxy with Stellar Streams: With the advent of very wide-field digital surveys of the sky, astronomers have discovered many surprising new denizens of the more remote quadrants of our galaxy. Particularly exciting are vast rivers of stars, many thousands of light years in extent, that are the fossil remains of galaxies and star clusters that have been cannibalized by the Milky Way. These ghostly streams not only tell us about how our Galaxy was formed, but by examining the shapes of these streams, we are now able to make the first detailed studies of the dark matter that we've long believed is holding our Galaxy together.
Dr. Carl Grillmair is a research scientist at the California Institute of Technology, where he spends half of his time supporting operations of both the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer. The other half of his time has been spent studying exoplanets and galactic structure.