Thesis Topic: Next generation Fornax Cluster surveys


Thesis Supervisor: Michael Hilker




The Fornax Clusters is a nearby galaxy cluster in the Southern hemisphere that is dominated by early-type galaxies in its core and is believed to be dynamically relaxed. Due to its proximity this cluster is an ideal laboratory to study the distribution and properties of low-mass stellar systems like dwarf galaxies (dEs, dSphs, UCDs, etc.) and globular clusters.

Since the seminal work of Ferguson et al. in the late 80s, who established a membership catalog of Fornax galaxies based on photographic plates – the Fornax Cluster Catalog (FCC) -- no complete and coherent survey of the wholecluster has been performed.
This is changing now. An international team, with Dr. Hilker as Co-PI, has started to gather wide-field optical and infrared imaging data as well as spectroscopic data on the whole extent of the Fornax cluster, mainly based on observations with ESO telescopes (VLT, VST, VISTA).
The goal is to characterize the full baryonic content of this cluster in order to understand the assembly history of its members galaxies and their related globular cluster systems. Also the dark matter distribution within this cluster can be constrained by using the thousands of star clusters and satellite dwarf galaxies as dynamical tracers of the underlying cluster and member galaxy potentials.

This rich dataset provides ample opportunities for scientific exploitation within a PhD thesis. Possible topics could be 'a specific frequency map of star clusters in Fornax', 'dynamical sub-structures in the star cluster and satellite systems in Fornax', 'the multi-colour (UV to NIR) view of stellar populations in Fornax galaxies', 'constraining the dark matter distribution in the Fornax cluster', etc.. Own ideas are also very welcome.

The PhD candidate will be member of an international collaboration with members all over Europe, North America and in Chile.

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