Our Local Group of galaxies is composed of our Milky Way; its twin galaxy, Andromeda (M31); and the dozens of small “satellite” galaxies orbiting around each of them. Satellite galaxies are thought to be the building blocks of more massive galaxies, therefore tracking the orbital histories of satellite galaxies in the galactic neighborhood is crucial to our understanding of how the Milky Way and Andromeda arrived at their current properties. Since galaxies are embedded in halos of dark matter -- the invisible matter that makes up 85% of the matter in the Universe -- satellite galaxies also act as tracers of this massive, mysterious matter. In this talk, I will explain how the individual orbital histories of these galaxies help us learn about the evolution of satellites themselves. Additionally, I will demonstrate how the collective motion of these systems of satellite galaxies can reveal important characteristics of their host galaxies, including the properties of their dark matter halos.
Speaker: Dr. Ekta Patel, UC Berkeley
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