The new X-ray observatories XMM-Newton and Chandra are pushing X-ray astrophysics into new territory, mapping the hot X-ray emitting gas in galaxies, groups, and clusters with unprecedented detail. It has become increasingly clear that the evolution of gal axy systems, in which most galaxies reside, and that of their galaxies is caused by mutual interactions affecting both. Much remains to be understood of this co-evolution of groups and their galaxies and the processes governing it. The thrust of the projec t is to elucidate these topics. Awarded high-quality X-ray and optical data will be coupled with results from numerical simulations, to focus on key areas of this rapidly evolving field where real and simulated data are likely to deliver maximum progress t o our understanding: The galaxies and hot X-ray gas within groups, and the interaction of the group galaxies with this gas. The approach is primarily observational; the aims are to study groups spanning a wide range of characteristics (from spiral-rich sys tems with no apparent hot X-ray gas, to fossil groups) and to study in detail the relationship between group and galaxy properties. This will be done in order to explore the way in which galaxy properties relate to the evolutionary stage of groups, and hen ce to establish which processes are most important in the environmental interactions which modify galaxy properties. The work will be coupled with specific hydrodynamical simulations to be developed in order to study gas-galaxy interactions in groups, and also compared to cosmological simulations accessed through relevant collaborations. The project will employ a number of novel techniques, and the results will be able to test key assumptions in our current understanding of the baryon content of the Univers e, the formation and evolution of galaxy groups and clusters, and the evolution of the galaxy population in these environments.
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