As techniques have improved over the last decade, observations have peered deep into the Universe’s history and begun to glimpse galaxies which formed in the first few billion years after the Big Bang. Evidence is mounting that galaxies in the early Universe appear and behave very differently from those nearby - for example, the most massive galaxies are extremely compact, and star-forming disks appear to have strange clumpy morphologies. In this talk, I will discuss galaxy formation at z > 2 from a theoretical perspective, presenting results drawn from both large-volume cosmological simulations (which allow us to compare and predict the statistical properties of galaxy populations) and high-resolution zoom-in simulations (which allow us to drill down on the physics governing individual systems). I will focus in particular on massive compact galaxies, whose varied formation and evolution present a case study on how galaxy populations evolve over time, and on massive disks, which are independently predicted by both simulation approaches to be very rapidly rotating at high redshift. I will also discuss how these results relate to one of the major outstanding questions in galaxy formation theory today: how galaxies are physically related to the supermassive black holes they host. The advents of JWST, LSST, and WFIRST over the next decade will provide us an unprecedented view of this dynamic and exciting time in the Universe's history. I will conclude by discussing future prospects for how high-z galaxy theory and simulation can anticipate and meet the challenges that these new observations will inevitably bring.
Sarah Wellons / Northwestern (Ciera)
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