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Black holes and their host galaxies: coevolution across cosmic time

Objective

Galaxy formation is one of the most fascinating yet challenging fields of astrophysics. The desire to understand
galaxy formation has led to the design of ever more sophisticated telescopes which show a bewildering variety
of galaxies in the Universe. However, the degree to which an interpretation of this wealth of data can succeed
depends critically on having accurate and realistic theoretical models of galaxy formation. While cosmological
simulations of galaxy formation provide the most powerful technique for calculating the non-linear evolution of
cosmic structures, the enormous dynamic range and poorly understood baryonic physics are main uncertainties
of present simulations. This impacts on their predictive power and is the major obstacle to our understanding of
observational data. The objective of this proposal is to drastically improve upon the current state-of-the-art by i)
including more realistic physical processes, such as those occurring at the sphere of influence of a galaxy’s central
black hole and ii) greatly extending spatial dynamical range with the aid of a novel technique I have developed.
With this technique I want to address one of the major unsolved issues of galaxy formation: “How do galaxies and
their central black holes coevolve?” Specifically, I want to focus on three crucial areas of galaxy formation: a) How
and where the very first black holes form, what are their observational signatures, and when is the coevolution with
host galaxies established? b) Is black hole heating solely responsible for the morphological transformation and
quenching of massive galaxies, or are other processes important as well? c) What is the impact of supermassive
black holes on galaxy clusters and can we calibrate baryonic physics in clusters to use them as high precision
cosmological probes? The requested funding is for 50% of the PI’s time and three postdoctoral researchers to
establish an independent research group at the KICC and IoA, Cambridge.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/astronomy/physical cosmology/galaxy formation and evolution
  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/astronomy/astrophysics
  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/astronomy/astrophysics/black hole

Call for proposal

ERC-2014-STG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-STG - Starting Grant

Host institution

THE CHANCELLOR MASTERS AND SCHOLARSOF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
Address
Trinity Lane The Old Schools
CB2 1TN Cambridge
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 975 062

Beneficiaries (1)

THE CHANCELLOR MASTERS AND SCHOLARSOF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 1 975 062
Address
Trinity Lane The Old Schools
CB2 1TN Cambridge
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments