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Searching for the First Galaxies in the Universe

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Monday, March 3, 2014 - 4:00pm

Seminar Location: 

  • JILA Auditorium

Speaker Name(s): 

Steve Finkelstein

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

UT Austin
Seminar Type/Subject

Scientific Seminar Type: 

  • Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences Seminar

Event Details & Abstract: 

Over the past five years, since the servicing mission installed the Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope, our knowledge of galaxy formation and evolution in the first billion years has blossomed. We are now at a point where we can move beyond simply compiling larger samples, and begin to probe the physics behind the changes in galaxies from early times until today. Using our current galaxy sample from the CANDELS survey, I will discuss our ongoing efforts to measure robust UV luminosity and stellar mass functions; they evolution of these statistical properties contains key information on the evolution of galaxies. I will discuss our ongoing near-infrared spectroscopic campaign of z > 7 galaxies. Although we have discovered the highest (to date) spectroscopically confirmed galaxy, the broader impact comes from our lack of Ly-alpha detections from the other >40 galaxies observed. This may indicate that reionization proceeds very quickly at z > 6.5, although I will discuss alternative explanations. Finally, I will discuss future surveys which will expand our knowledge of the early universe, including the Hubble Frontier Fields program, as well as the Hobby Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment.