Quantitative galaxy evolution: numerical simulations using Herschel data (astronomy)
A surprisingly large amount of research on galaxies still relies on the Hubble sequence, Hubble’s attempt to classify galaxies based on their appearance on photographic plates. One of the reasons why quantitative measurements of nearby galaxies are still rather rare is that until recently galaxy-evolution theories were quite primitive, making few and very imprecise predictions about the properties of galaxies. However, numerical simulations are now making precise quantitative predictions of the properties of galaxies in the nearby Universe, and the data to test these predictions exists, although nobody has yet used the data to make the measurements of galaxy properties necessary to test the models. This project consists of two parts. Both parts of the project will use the Herschel Reference Survey, our Herschel survey of 323 nearby galaxies, for which superb data at all wavelengths exists.
The first part of the project will be to use the data to make quantitative estimates of the properties of all the galaxies, such as the rate at which stars are forming in each galaxy, the mass of stars, the bulge-to-disk ratio and many other properties. These results will then be compared with the predictions of numerical simulations, such as EAGLE and Illustris. The second part of the project will be to use the optical spectra of the galaxies to deduce what these galaxies looked like in the past – and so to back-engineer their evolutionary history.
This project is available to students applying for funded PhD studentships and may be altered or withdrawn.
Studentships will be awarded to successful applicants from all applications received. Applicants must satisfy RCUK residency rules for the full studentship.
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