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Cosmic Dawn – The Emergence of Black Holes and Galaxies <br/>in the Universe


Studying quasars (actively accreting supermassive black holes) and galaxies at the earliest cosmic epochs is one of the prime objectives in modern astrophysics. How the first luminous sources formed and reionized the universe is one of the most fundamental open questions in cosmology. Likewise, a detailed characterization of the evolution of the cosmic molecular gas density, which lies at the heart of galaxy evolution, is a fundamental goal in observational astrophysics. The proposed program capitalizes on current and upcoming facilities and encompasses three aspects: The first (I) will use the recently started Pan-STARRS1 survey to identify a sizeable sample of z>7 quasars, i.e. when the universe was less than 0.8 Gyr old (<1/15th of today’s age), to statistically probe black hole growth in the Epoch of Reionization. The second project (II) will characterize the physical properties of z~6 and z~7 quasar hosts selected from project (I) and the SDSS / VISTA VIKING surveys using new observational NIR/(sub)millimeter capabilities, including ALMA (observations approved in cycle 0). The last project (III) will use the IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer, and ALMA, to embark on the first molecular deep field which will provide a complete ‘blind’ census of the molecular gas density through cosmic times (from z~1 to z~8, approved pilot program). The overarching goal of this ERC proposal is thus to greatly increase our understanding of the physical properties of the earliest massive objects in the universe, and to shed first light on the evolution of the cosmic molecular gas density in galaxies after the universe emerged from the cosmic ‘dark ages’. The PI is internationally recognized as a leader in molecular gas studies of high-redshift galaxies, and through his track record and access to the needed combination of research facilities, is uniquely positioned to successfully lead this program.

Call for proposal

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Hofgartenstrasse 8
80539 Munchen

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Activity type
Research Organisations
Beate Licht (Ms.)
Fabian Walter (Dr.)
EU contribution
€ 1 439 000,00

Beneficiaries (1)