Research Fellows Directory
Professor Juntai Shen
University of Central Lancashire
The centre of the Milky Way is dominated by a massive component called the bulge, which comprises about 20% of its stars. Bulges either form when galaxies merge with each other, or when gas is funnelled to the centre and forms stars. Studies of the bulge of the Milky Way have given conflicting views of how it formed but the best current model, developed by myself, favours formation without a significant merger product. This model did not include gas or star formation and therefore can compare with the density distribution and the velocities of stars, but cannot compare with ages and chemistry of stars. With Dr. Victor Debattista at UCLan, we plan to build further dynamical models of the Milky Way's bulge including gas and star formation in order to compare with the wealth of upcoming observational data, including from the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite. Additional models will attempt to match the different motions of stars of different ages and chemistries. All these models will also allow us to study why the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way's bulge, at 4 million times the mass of the Sun is still less massive than in other galaxies.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)