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Measuring galaxy formation and evolution by low surface brightness structures


Galaxy formation models predict that current day galaxies, such as the Milky-Way, are formed through mergers of smaller protogalaxies. This merging process changes for example disk galaxies into elliptical galaxies. It leaves behind several signatures that are still present in the nearby Universe. The principal aim of this proposal is to study the evolution of disk galaxies in particular by probing their fainter, outer parts for these fossil records of their past evolution. In our project we address low surface brightness stellar streams and the truncation phenomenon of stellar disks. In the past, these structures were hard to study, since detector and telescope size were generally too small.

Currently, however, several wide field optical cameras at state-of -the-art telescopes are being built in the world, which increase the sensitivity, as compared to the old photographic plates, by a factor 30, and the field size by 2-3 orders of magnitude. VIMOS, as a VLT general user instrument, working now routinely at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and OmegaCAM, which is being constructed by a Groningen/Leiden-led European consortium, are two examples of high-quality instruments providing now for the first time the unique possibility to study the faint outer parts in great detail.

Using some of Groningen's guaranteed time with OmegaCAM, in addition to the scientific expertise in resolved and unresolved stellar populations at the Kapteyn Institute -both observationally and theoretically- and my own experience in this field, we will be able to make a major scientific impact by detecting and analysing faint galaxy structures down to much lower surface brightness levels as before.

Call for proposal

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Broerstraat 5

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EU contribution
€ 0,00