ERC Advanced Investigator Grant

COSMICISM is a 60 month research programme funded by a European Research Council Advanced Investigator Grant at The University of Edinburgh within the area of Physical Sciences and Engineering: Universe sciences. The Principal Investigator (PI) is Prof. Rob Ivison and the programme will run from 1890-1937 2013-2018. These projects are "highly ambitious, pioneering and unconventional" and COSMICISM is no different. The team aims to study the formation and evolution of galaxies, mainly via observations at far-infrared (FIR), submillimetre (submm) and radio wavelengths.

The physical conditions of molecular gas in galaxies, and the impact of star formation and active galactic nuclei (AGN) on these conditions and on the emergent stellar initial mass function (IMF), are overarching themes in astrophysics. We are entering an era where numerical simulations of turbulent molecular gas can be informed and constrained by observations of such gas. We investigate, theoretically and observationally, the impact of merger-driven star formation during a vital period in cosmic history, 1 < z < 3, when much of today's stellar mass was formed. It is here that we must study Larson's star-formation laws, and turbulence-regulated aspects of star formation, and look for possibly dramatic differences in the initial conditions of star formation, and the different IMF these may impose. These galaxies were significantly more gas-rich and turbulent than local starbursts, with different fragmentation histories and higher star-formation-rate densities (so more cosmic rays). They should yield cleaner signatures of a top-heavy IMF than local starbursts, where periods of ordinary star formation may have diluted such signatures. We will exploit strongly lensed starbursts to study powerful diagnostic rest-frame FIR cooling lines with Herschel’s Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTS) and map velocity fields with the Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA), PdBI and ALMA, moving beyond studies of integrated galaxy properties to study the activity within starbursts on sub-kpc scales, distinguishing between fueling mechanisms and testing Larson's relations. At this level of sophistication, the analysis of the ISM at z > 1 begins to be comparable to that possible at z ~ 0. Abundances probed by multi-species, multi-J isotopologues and molecular diagnostics will reveal the dominant form of nucleosynthesis enriching their ISM, and gravo-turbulent magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) simulations of gas fragmentation in cosmic-ray-dominated regions will determine how turbulent energy injection affects merger-driven systems, producing IMF libraries as functions of ISM conditions to determine the cosmological consequences.

Prof. Rob Ivison
rivison [at] / ESO, Karl Schwarzschild Strasse 2, D-85748 Garching, Munich, Germany
Tel: +49-89-3200-6669 / Cell: +49-151-1856-3662 / Videocon: rivison.hq [at]
rji [at] / Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Royal Observatory, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ
Tel: +44-131-668-8361 / Fax: +44-131-668-8464

This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research,
technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no. 321302.