Dr Jason Sanders
I am an astrophysicist and my research focusses on the dynamics of galaxies. I am trying to answer questions regarding the formation, evolution and structure of galaxies. We believe all galaxies have a significant component of their mass in dark matter. This significant component of the Universe is not well understood, but from studying the dynamics of galaxies we can map out its distribution.
In particular I study the dynamics of our own Galaxy, the Milky Way. Currently, I work on two complementary areas which promise to be key to mapping the Milky Way's dark matter field. The combination of both dynamical and chemical information in models for the Galactic disc should provide stronger constraints on the local dark matter distribution near the Sun. Additionally tidally stripped satellites of the Milky Way, or tidal streams, provide information on the more global distribution of dark matter in the Galaxy.
In the coming years the study of the Milky Way will blossom with the arrival of the data from the Gaia satellite (http://gaia.ac.uk). Gaia was launched in December 2013 and will provide a 3D map of 1 billion stars in our Galaxy. This will be invaluable in furthering our understanding of the structure and history of the Milky Way.