Thesis Topic: Studying the first galaxy clusters with ALMA
Thesis Supervisor: Eelco van Kampen
ALMA will provide a major leap forward in our capabilities of studying the high-redshift universe, especially the first galaxies. Star-formation in these galaxies is largely hidden by (astrophysical) dust, hiding the fundamental processes responsible for galaxy formation from traditional optical telescopes. The light absorved by this dust is re-radiated mostly in the submillimetre and far-infrared part of the spectrum, which is where ALMA is most sensitive.
These first galaxies are also found to cluster relatively strongly, and are expected to form proto-clusters, later growing to be the fully-formed galaxy clusters we see in the local Universe. The focus of this PhD project is on these proto-clusters: when do they form ? Do they form intermittently, or is there one clear formation epoch ? At which stage are they most 'dusty' ? Which of the current cluster galaxies formed at high redshifts ?
The PhD project will be both observational and theoretical, and will not forget to include other wavebands as well, notably the optical and infrared, where the VLT has contributed so much already. ALMA first science operations will start half-way through the project at the latest, so we will start with the theoretical part, simulating what ALMA might observe.