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IAU Symposium 343: Why Galaxies Care About AGB Stars: A Continuing Challenge through Cosmic Time

20th August 2018 - 23rd August 2018
Vienna, Austria


The symposium aims to build a bridge between research on Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) stars themselves and its application to the modelling of stellar populations and the chemical evolution of galaxies and the Universe as a whole. Current developments and challenges seen from both domains will be discussed to reach an understanding of possibilities, limitations, and needs in both areas, and hence to improve our understanding of the role of AGB stars in the context of galaxies over cosmic time. Despite the fact that major efforts have being carried out on both observational and theoretical grounds in recent years, our knowledge of AGB stars is still deficient due to uncertainties related to mass loss, convection, mixing, dredge-up efficiencies, and the role of binary interaction processes in many observed phenomena. These uncertainties in our understanding of AGB stars directly propagate into the field of extragalactic astronomy, where they affect critically the interpretation of galaxy properties, e.g. stellar masses, ages, and the chemical evolution. The complexity of the objects also makes it difficult for individual researchers to master all aspects of their role as galaxy inhabitants, a problem that the proposed symposium aims to illuminate and overcome. New and upcoming major observational facilities like ALMA, Gaia, JWST, LSST, SKA, and the ELTs will provide exciting opportunities to tackle these challenges from the observational side, stretching from the detailed study of individual objects that are spatially resolved to AGB populations in distant galaxies. At the same time, thanks to high-performance computing, 3D modelling of stellar interiors is starting to become feasible, propelling us toward a better understanding of the uncertainties related to the physics of AGB stars. This makes it particularly important to outline a strategic programme of combined theoretical and observational activities at this time.

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