Year of admission: 2014
How did galaxies and stars form in the universe’s youth?
Galaxies have created new stars from gas throughout almost the entire history of the universe, but the processes differ at different epochs. Matthew Hayes will gaze into the youth of the universe to understand gas accretion and star formation in early galaxies, the ancestors of more modern galaxies such as the Milky Way.
Theoretical computer simulations of the universe’s early and remote galaxies have shown that they were enshrouded in gigantic clouds of neutral hydrogen, and that they emitted extremely strong ultraviolet radiation. This radiation knocked out the electrons from atomic hydrogen and created the warm ionized medium that now pervades intergalactic space.
The problem is that these simulations do not match observations: emission from cold gas is extremely hard to detect, and the ultraviolet radiation that has been observed from remote galaxies is too weak. As a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, Dr Matthew Hayes, from the Department of Astronomy, Stockholm University, will study early galaxies through the advanced Very Large Telescope in Chile. He will also study closer galaxies using the Hubble Space Telescope. He aims to use innovative simulations to explain the formation of galaxies in our early universe and how they evolved into modern galaxies.
Photo: Charlotta Hayes