Breaking the Self-Similarity of Galaxy Formation: A Circumgalactic Medium Perspective
Benjamin Oppenheimer, University of Colorado Boulder
If you could see a dark matter halo directly without knowing the scale, you probably could not distinguish a Milky Way halo from a cluster-sized halo. However, if you look at the galaxies, you would likely see a dominant spiral galaxy in the former and a many quenched and quenching galaxies in the latter. The study of galaxy formation aims to understand how very different galaxies form in dark matter halos of different masses. I will argue for the importance of understanding the gaseous baryons in this context. In contrast to the hot intracluster medium detected in emission in clusters, the circumgalactic medium (CGM) has to be probed by absorption lines toward background quasars and tells a vastly different and complicated story. I will demonstrate, with the aid of hydrodynamic simulations, how the CGM is multi-phase (with cool ~10^4 K clouds embedded in a hot, ambient medium), plus how non-equilibrium ionization processes altering the heavy element ions we probe in spectra. The next frontiers in the CGM require understanding the dynamics encoded not only in absorption line spectra of the UV, but in the X-ray via emission and absorption.
Galaxy Evolution in High Definition Via Gravitational Lensing
Dr. Jane Rigby
Deputy Project Scientist for JWST, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Abstract: In hundreds of known cases, “gravitational lenses” have deflected, distorted, and amplified images of galaxies or quasars behind them. As such, gravitational lensing is a way to “cheat” at studying how galaxies evolve: lensing can magnify galaxies by factors of 10–100 times, transforming them from objects we can barely detect to bright objects we can study in detail. For such rare objects, we are studying how galaxies formed stars at redshifts of 1–4, the epoch when most of the Universe’s stars were formed. For lensed galaxies, we can obtained spectral diagnostics that are currently unavailable for the distant universe, but will become routine with next-generation telescopes.
In particular, I’ll discuss MEGaSaURA, The Magellan Evolution of Galaxies Spectroscopic and Ultraviolet Reference Atlas, which comprises high signal-to-noise, medium spectral resolution (R~3300) spectra of 15 extremely bright gravitationally lensed galaxies at redshifts of 1.6<z<3.6. The sample, drawn from the SDSS Giant Arcs Survey, are many of the brightest lensed galaxies known. The MEGaSaURA spectra reveal a wealth of spectral diagnostics: absorption from the outflowing wind; nebular emission lines that will be key diagnostics for JWST, GMT, and TMT; and photospheric absorption lines and P Cygni profiles from the massive stars that power the outflow.
Preparing to Explore the Universe with the James Webb Space Telescope
Dr. Jane Rigby (NASA Goddard, Deputy Project Scientist for JWST)
Abstract: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), scheduled to be launched in 2019, will revolutionize our view of the Universe. As the scientific successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, JWST will rewrite the textbooks and return gorgeous images and spectra of our universe. In my talk, I will show how JWST will revolutionize our understanding of how galaxies and supermassive black holes formed in the first billion years after the Big Bang, and how they evolved over cosmic time. I’ll describe how our international team is preparing for launch, how we decide what targets to observe, and how we are testing the telescope to be sure it will work in space.
More information about the telescope can be found at https://www.jwst.nasa.gov/.