Thesis Topic: Probing the central regions of galaxies
Thesis Supervisor: Harald Kuntschner, Tim de Zeeuw
The advent of near IR spectroscopy in conjunction with adaptive optics on large telescopes allows to observe the central regions of galaxies at unprecedented spatial resolutions. Thus ground based spectroscopy can now deliver detailed information on the kinematics and stellar populations at spatial scales formerly restricted to HST imaging. A better understanding of the centers of galaxies is important since these regions hold vital clues to the violent processes which shape galaxies. Specifically, star-formation triggered by infalling gas and mergers of galaxies, the growth of stellar cusps around the central black holes and their feedback an the overall star-formation processes.
This project is aimed at obtaining new, high spatial resolution K-band spectroscopy of nearby galaxy centers with VLT-Sinfoni and/or VLT-NACO. The data will be used to investigate the central dynamics and stellar populations on spatial scales directly influenced by the central black hole. During the course of the PhD project the student will become familiar with up-to-date adaptive optics assisted IFU observations and their data-reduction as well as the use of publicly available HST imaging.