Using a combination of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Keck telescopes, and the ALMA millimeter interferometer, we have begun to piece together a picture of the emergence of galactic structure: how the Universe evolved from its uniform state shortly after the Big Bang to the rich diversity of galaxies today. In this talk, I will discuss some of the results that have come out of my work and the impact they have had on our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies. This includes developing a new method to directly image the emergence of galactic structure in the distant past using Hubble, conducting the first spatially resolved systematic census of star formation at early times, and new discoveries about the enigmatic galaxies that ruled the early universe. Finally, the impending launch of the James Webb Space Telescope will revolutionize our understanding of early galaxy formation. I will conclude with a discussion of where the field is moving and the rich discovery space in this new era of extragalactic astrophysics.
Erica Nelson / Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
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