The nearby Universe: our window into gigayears of galaxy evolution

Payel Das (Oxford)

Galaxy evolution seeks to understand how the disordered and featureless groups of stars in the early Universe metamorphosed into the distinct galaxy morphologies we observe in the Hubble sequence today. There are a number of drivers of galaxy evolution acting on different physical scales. Understanding these will place critical constraints on processes across astrophysics and particle physics. In the nearby Universe, we have access to the detailed positions, velocities, and chemical patterns of the constituent stars in galaxies, which encode several of these evolutionary processes. I will present a number of examples from my own research to demonstrate how new models based on collisionless dynamics can be combined with state-of the-art statistical tools to reveal both the dark matter distribution and the history of star formation, chemical enrichment, internal dynamical processes, and galaxy collisions. To conclude, I will outline my proposal for reconfiguring the field in light of a deluge of multi-wavelength data becoming available from the smallest to the most massive galaxies in the nearby Universe.