Galaxy evolution in the early Universe, and the GIRMOS spectrograph

Scott Chapman
Event Date and Time: 
Tue, 2018-01-16 10:30 - 11:30
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Leanne Ebbs
Dusty star-forming galaxies pinpoint galaxies which are actively forming in the early Universe. They host intense stellar nurseries and their high rates of star formation pose a unique challenge for cosmological simulations and galaxy formation theory, particularly at early times. Although rare today, they were factors of 1000 times more prevalent in the first half of the Universe 8-12 billion years ago, contributing significantly to the buildup of the Universe's stellar mass and the formation of higher-mass galaxies. To study such forming galaxies in detail, gravitationally lensed examples are particularly useful, and the South Pole Telescope survey has provided several hundred exquisite examples. The same survey has also uncovered `proto-clusters’ of star-forming galaxies allowing constraints on early structure formation in the Universe. Looking to the future, we have been funded to build GIRMOS, a Multi-Object Adaptive Optics (MOAO) spectrograph for Gemini (commissioning ~2023). This instrument’s technological innovations will have the broadest impact in the study of the formation and evolution of galaxies, but will also have broad reach in fields such as star formation within our Milky Way. It will become a facility instrument at Gemini Telescope in Chile and carry out much needed scientific follow-up for the James Webb Space Telescope, but will also act as a Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) pathfinder, laying the scientific and technical ground-work for developing an early instrument for TMT. Technical Innovations for GIRMOS include a modular, high performance Adaptive Optics system, and high throughput infrared imaging spectroscopy.
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