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Winds in galaxies

Project description

New insights into gas outflows produced by massive black holes

Massive black holes lie at the centre of galaxies and release an extraordinary amount of energy during their accretion phase. Such energy amounts trigger the formation of gas outflows that can significantly influence the evolution of the host galaxy. However, despite the remarkable theoretical and experimental work in probing the dynamics of such outflows, determining exactly how they affect the formation and evolution of galaxies remains unknown. The EU-funded WINGS project will investigate this. Combining observations from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimetre Array and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, WINGS will assemble the largest high spatial resolution survey of multi-phase outflows.

Objective

Massive black holes (BHs) reside at the center of galaxies and release an extraordinary amount of energy during their accretion phase. Such energy drives galaxy-scale gas outflows that can significantly influence the evolution of the host galaxy. Despite the remarkable theoretical and observational progress in quantifying the energetics and dynamics of such outflows, establishing their role during the formation and evolution of galaxies remains a long-standing problem in modern astrophysics. WINGS is designed to finally settle whether outflows driven by BHs are able to shape galaxies and their environment or not. To achieve this goal, we will build up a novel observational and theoretical framework that investigates the role of outflows in the early Universe, when BHs and galaxies are growing at the highest rates and outflows are expected to be more common and powerful, leaving a prominent mark on galaxy evolution. Thanks to the PI, WINGS will have access to several key observing programs carried out with ALMA and VLT as well as the guaranteed-time observer (GTO) program (~900 hours) with the NIRSpec spectrograph on board the soon-to-launch JWST. By exploiting both observations of local outflows and zoom-in simulations, we will develop a 3D kinematic outflow model that will be an asset in (i) interpreting existing high-redshift data and upcoming JWST observations, (ii) characterizing for the first time outflow properties across cosmic time (up to z~9), and (iii) identifying feedback signatures in the interstellar and circumgalactic medium properties. The combination of JWST, ALMA, and VLT observations will enable WINGS to assemble the largest high-spatial resolution survey of multi-phase outflows. The support from the ERC will be crucial to assemble a unique team mixing the observation-oriented and theory-oriented approach, as a joint effort of observations and simulations is the key to make a major breakthrough in understanding outflows driven by BHs.

Host institution

SCUOLA NORMALE SUPERIORE
Net EU contribution
€ 1 199 519,00
Address
PIAZZA DEI CAVALIERI 7
56126 Pisa
Italy

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Region
Centro (IT) Toscana Pisa
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 1 199 519,00

Beneficiaries (1)