Dwarf Galaxies as Cosmological Probes

Recent wide-field surveys have revolutionized our understanding of the Local Group of Galaxies. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey, in particular, has more than doubled the number of known dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way and revealed a new population of ultrafaint dwarf satellites. At the same time, advances in computational cosmology have led to improved predictions for the properties of the smallest dark matter halos that host dwarf galaxies in the current paradigm of structure formation, the Lambda Cold Dark Matter model.

The simultaneous progress in the modeling and observing fronts has transformed dwarf galaxy studies into powerful probes of both the prevailing cosmological paradigm and of our understanding of galaxy formation. Locally, dwarfs trace the extreme faint end of the galaxy formation process, while at high redshift they seem to play an important role in the reionization of the Universe. Making explicit connections between the high and low redshift Universe holds the promise of validating or challenging the current cosmological paradigm of structure formation on small scales.

This Aspen Summer workshop will bring together experts in Galactic astronomy, cosmology and stellar astrophysics in order to promote collaborative efforts across theoretical, computational and observational disciplines. By fostering discussionsn and interactions between theorists and observers, we aim to help to set the scene for the exploitation of current and future surveys, including GAIA, and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.