Hunting the Most Distant Stars in the Galaxy

John Bochanski

Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry, & Physics, Rider University

M giant stars offer our best opportunity to explore the outer reaches of the Galactic halo with today's modern wide-field surveys. While challenging to distinguish from the overwhelming number of nearby dwarf stars, when identified, M giants are powerful tracers of the structural and kinematic properties of the Milky Way's halo. Using optical and near-infrared photometry from the SDSS and UKIDSS surveys, we have collected a sample of candidate M giants with estimated distances ranging from 30 to well over 200 kpc. I will report on our group's findings to date, which include the two most distant stars ever found in our Galaxy.