Scientific rationales

Why ?

The first Gaia catalogue, published in September 2016, gave to astronomers a flavor of the outstanding quality and scope of the Gaia data, but its full scale will come with the 2018 data release. It will contain parallaxes and proper motions for the entire catalogue (more than 1 billion stars), and radial velocities for 5 millions of them. The scientific community, and the PHD students and post-docs in particular, will then meet two challenges : handling this huge data set, and tackle the key scientific questions of what constitute the heart of the Gaia mission, the study of the Milky Way galaxy.
On practically all aspects of stellar populations and Galactic evolution, the exploitation of the Gaia data is expected to lead to scientific breakthroughs : measurement of the rotation curve, the gravitational potential, the structure of our Galaxy, its mass growth, etc., and therefore represents a huge interest for the community.
The aim of the school we propose to the Ecole Doctorale is therefore twofold :
(1) to have the best experts in their field present the key questions on stellar populations structure, chemical and dynamical evolution of the Milky Way, through both modeling aspects and direct exploration of the data to students and post-docs.
(2) bring very practical answers to the needs of the young astronomers to do their daily science with the Gaia data (handling of the Gaia archive, limits of the data, rigorous statistical handling of the errors, correlations and completeness of the catalogue, familiarity with the available codes to compute various parameters of interest for Galactic science (velocities, orbits, age, extinction etc.).
The Paris-Meudon Observatory has been at the heart of the french participation to the Gaia mission, from its preparation to the present follow-up and will continue its efforts up to the publication of the final catalogue in 2021. Having both the expertise in the Gaia data and in various domains of Galactic evolution, it is well positioned to organise this school.
A school at the end of 2017 or early in 2018 would be extremely timely for international students and post- docs to deal with the complexity of the data, and discuss and exchange with experts in these fields.




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