Thesis Topic: Studying the first galaxy clusters with ALMA


Thesis Supervisor: Eelco van Kampen




ALMA has provided 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-cluster galaxies: 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 already 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. We will use existing ALMA data, from various projects, and public data like that from Hubble’s Frontier Fields project. We will also apply for ALMA to obtain more data, with input from the PhD student. The project will not rely on the success of such proposals, as ALMA time is hard to get.