It is sometimes said that astronomy is the crossroads of physics. In the same spirit, it can forcefully be argued that galaxies are the crossroads of astronomy. Internal pro ces ses within galaxies involve all of the fundamental components of astrophysics: stellar evolution, star formation, low-density astrophysics, dynamics, hydrodynamics, and high-energy astrophysics. Indeed, one can hardly name an observational datum in any wavelength range on any kind of celestial object that does not provide a useful clue to galaxy formation and evolution. Although internal processes in galaxies until recently occupied most of our attention, we now know that it is also vital to relate galaxies to their environment. How galaxies congregate in larger structures and are in turn influenced by them are crucial questions for galactic evolution. On a grander level we have also come to regard galaxies as the basic building blocks of the universe, the basic units whereby the large scale structure of the universe is apprehended and quantified. On a grander level still, we also believe strongly that galaxies are the direct descendents of early density irregularities in the Big Bang. Galaxy properties are now viewed as providing a crucial constraint on the physics of the Big Bang and a vital link between the macroscopic and microscopic structure of the universe.
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