The XXXIV Canary Islands Winter School of Astrophysics, organized by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), focuses on the formation and the evolution of galaxies in the Local Group. The school, to be held in San Cristóbal de La Laguna (Tenerife, Spain) from November 8th to 15th 2023, will admit about 50 advanced MSc students, PhD students and early career Post-Docs. In a relaxed environment, the school will give participants the opportunity to learn from world-renowned specialists. All the participants of the Winter School will have the opportunity to present themselves and their research with a flash talk and to submit a poster. Attendance to the school will be certified for a total of 32 hours.  In addition, for an additional cost of 320 €, the participants will have the possibility to visit the  Roque de los Muchachos Observatory located on La Palma island on Thursday November 16th. Deadline for the applications is July 14th 2023. Selected applicants will receive instructions by email on how to register and proceed with the registration fee payment.


Scientific Rationale


A principal pillar of the currently favoured Λ Cold Dark Matter (ΛCDM) cosmological model is the progressive merging and accretion of smaller galaxies, which lies at the heart of galaxy evolution. These events are capable of sculpting entire galactic components (such as stellar halos and disks) through extreme gravitational influence and starbursts. Moreover, the dynamics of accreting galaxies provide insights into the nature of mysterious dark matter that surrounds galaxies. Our best chance of constraining and understanding a galaxy’s history of accretion events lies in connecting them to the properties and distribution of stellar populations found within galaxies - a “galactic archaeology” approach. These connections are clouded by imprints left by the evolution of galactic bars and spiral arms – the defining features of disc galaxies – whose nature is still not known. 

Nowhere in the Universe can galactic stellar populations be studied in more detail than in our Cosmic Home, the Milky Way. Our view is being transformed thanks to large surveys like ESA’s flagship Gaia mission and massive ground based spectroscopic surveys bringing into focus a rich picture of early and late time mergers as well as presently accreting systems. In the coming years, surveys like these will provide incredibly detailed information for billions of stars in larger volumes than ever before across the sky, including valuable tracers of Galactic assembly like globular clusters, stellar streams, in addition to the dominant field star populations. At the same time, progress on modelling the Milky Way using cutting-edge cosmological hydrodynamical simulations offers a promising way to interpret this treasure chest of observations. Together, these advancements will garner valuable new insights into galaxy evolution and the nature of dark matter that are now at the focal point of Milky Way science. 

The aim of this Winter school is to provide an overview of the current status of each aspect of this golden age of Galactic archaeology, given by world-renowned experts in the form of plenary and focussed lectures. In addition, the school will teach and demonstrate the use of powerful analysis techniques in the form of practical hands-on sessions.

Organizing Committee

  • Carme Gallart 
  • Giuseppina Battaglia 
  • Emma Fernández Alvar 
  • Robert Grand 
  • Guillaume Thomas 
  • Rafael Rebolo