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Volume 409, Number 2, October II 2003
Page(s) 523 - 540
Section Stellar clusters and associations
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20031117

A&A 409, 523-540 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20031117

A synthetic view on structure and evolution of the Milky Way

A. C. Robin1, C. Reylé1, S. Derrière2 and S. Picaud1

1  CNRS UMR6091, Observatoire de Besançon, BP 1615, 25010 Besançon Cedex, France
    e-mail: annie.robin@obs-besancon.fr,celine@obs-besancon.fr,picaud@obs-besancon.fr
2  CNRS UMR7550, Observatoire de Strasbourg, 11 rue de l'Université, 67000 Strasbourg, France
    e-mail: derriere@astro.u-strasbg.fr

(Received 14 October 2002 / Accepted 11 July 2003)

Since the Hipparcos mission and recent large scale surveys in the optical and the near-infrared, new constraints have been obtained on the structure and evolution history of the Milky Way. The population synthesis approach is a useful tool to interpret such data sets and to test scenarios of evolution of the Galaxy. We present here new constraints on evolution parameters obtained from the Besançon model of population synthesis and analysis of optical and near-infrared star counts. The Galactic potential is computed self-consistently, in agreement with Hipparcos results and the observed rotation curve. Constraints are posed on the outer bulge structure, the warped and flared disc, the thick disc and the spheroid populations. The model is tuned to produce reliable predictions in the visible and the near-infrared in wide photometric bands from U to K. Finally, we describe applications such as photometric and astrometric simulations and a new classification tool based on a Bayesian probability estimator, which could be used in the framework of Virtual Observatories. As examples, samples of simulated star counts at different wavelengths and directions are also given.

Key words: Galaxy: stellar content -- Galaxy: general -- Galaxy: evolution -- Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics -- Galaxy: structure

Offprint request: A. C. Robin, robin@obs-besancon.fr

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