The dark side of the star formation history of the Universe

Project: Other

Project Details


Some of the biggest questions in extragalactic astronomy concern the formation and evolution of galaxies in the distant Universe. Distant galaxies alight with star formation are routinely being pinpointed using the world's most powerful optical telescopes. However, we know that star forming galaxies also tend to harbour dust, which absorbs and re-radiates stellar light at far-Infrared wavelengths. This effectively `hidden' star formation activity must be accounted for in order to paint a complete picture of early galaxy formation. This issue is normally circumvented by `correcting' the stellar emission for dust extinction using standard tools and assumptions, but these have yet to be tested at early cosmic times.

Thus the aim of this project is to directly measure just how dusty galaxies are in their earliest throes of formation, towards `cosmic dawn', by using facilities with the best sensitivity and resolution at submillimetre wavelengths, where the `hidden' dust emission peaks. We will compare these data with state-of-the-art simulation work to investigate the interplay of dust and stars in the early Universe, and aim to deliver a dramatically refined tool for making dust corrections of UV/optical-only data well into the Epoch of Reionization (where JWST will also probe beyond 2021). This project will also have a clear impact on the design of the next generation facilities like the 50-m single-dish Atacama Large Area Submillimetre Telescope (AtLAST).
Effective start/end date1/09/1931/08/20


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