what can you learn from galaxy spectra?

In the lunch-time brown-bag spot, Mike Blanton gave a great talk about galaxy spectra from SDSS-IV, especially the MaNGA project. He drew an amazingly realistic galaxy spectrum on the board and talked about what can be learned from various spectral features, including galaxy age (or star-formation history), chemical abundances (including abundance anomalies that connect back to star-formation history), and mass function (or dwarf-to-giant ratio). The MaNGA survey will make all of these things possible as a function of position within the galaxy for ten-thousand galaxies, which is exciting. After the talk we discussed a bit what might happen if SDSS-IV APOGEE-2 took some long-exposure spectra of galaxies; presumably there would be tons of dwarf-to-giant information, and also a great measurement of the velocity distributions of stars of different types. Interesting to think about!

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