The Caterpillar suite was designed to answer certain questions in key areas.
Dark Matter Systems
The LCDM paradigm is the leading model for structure formation and evolution in the Universe. Despite the progress made over the past 20 years, many questions remain. In the past five years, advances in computational power combined with more detailed modeling has ushered in a new kind of understanding on scales that have not yet been fully studied. The origin and evolution of small scale (i.e. galaxy and down) systems is one of the most actively researched areas in astrophysics. Caterpillar contributes but one dataset toward understanding these small systems in the context of galaxy formation.
First Stars & Galaxies Of The Milky Way
The exact origin of the first stars and galaxies is still yet unknown. As the data avalanche continues from ever increasingly comprehensive observational surveys, updated models of the origin and formation of these stellar system are required. Caterpillar's high temporal and spatial resolution can resolve these small host halos and since the suite is completed to z = 0, it allows us to connect the high-redshift universe with that of the present day.
Chemical Evolution Of The Milky Way
A wealth of information can be learned from the chemical signature of a galaxy. Building accurate chemical models to explain the plethora of chemical signatures found in our Galaxy remains a leading challenge for the field. The statistically large sample of high-resolution halos enables certain aspects of these signatures to be better understood within the broader context of galaxy formation.
The Stellar Halo
Stellar halos of galaxies today contain the the chemical and dynamical imprint of processes and occured over the past several billion years. The hierarchical nature of galaxy assembly means that one can reconstruct an understanding how these processes affected the structure and composition of galaxies today.
Satellites Of The Milky Way
The satellite systems of the Milky Way are tracers of the origin and evolution of their host galaxies. The dynamical and chemical nature of satellite systems of the Milky Way allow us to build picture of how our Galaxy formed and evolved over the past 10 billion years. Caterpillar's high temporal and spatial resolution provides a unique opportunity to build models of how our Galaxy formed and probe its formation history.