Exploring the Distant Universe with the James Webb Space Telescope
Supervisor: Stephen Wilkins
Over the past decade the Hubble Space Telescope has collected extremely sensitive observations of the Universe. These observations have revealed a population of intensely forming galaxies present when the Universe was less than 10% of its current age. With the imminent/recent [depending what side of the launch you are reading this] of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) it will soon be possible to both extend samples to earlier periods of the Universe’s history but also robustly measure their physical properties.
In this project you will analyse observations obtained by JWST to study galaxies in the early Universe from one of several surveys which the Sussex team is involved. Specifically you will focus on 1) identifying galaxies at z>7 2) measuring their physical properties (stellar masses, star formation rates, metallicities, etc.) and 3) compare against theoretical models and simulations.
The project will make widespread use of Python but advanced prior knowledge is not critical. In addition to attendance at national and international conferences it is expected thatyou will visit collaborators in the United States and you may be required to undertake some observing duties for follow-up studies.
Simulating the First Galaxies
Supervisor: Stephen Wilkins
Understanding first light - the formation of the first stars and galaxies in the early Universe - remains a fundamental and challenging frontier in extragalactic astrophysics. While remarkable progress in both observations and theory has been made a number of fundamental questions remain unresolved, including: the nature of the faint galaxy population, the role of nascent black holes, the evolution and influence of dust, the energetics and duration of reionisation, the development of structure and detecting the first stars.
Owing to the increased sensitivity, areal coverage, wavelength range, and spectral/spatial resolution of forthcoming ground- and space-based observatories, this decade will see significant advances leading to strong constraints on galaxy evolution and formation models. In order to fully exploit the constraining power of observations from JWST, Euclid, Roman, SKA and the ELTs we commenced upon an ambitious simulation project: the First Light And Reionisation Epoch Simulations (FLARES).
FLARES utilises hydrodynamical simulations which self consistently model the dark matter, gas, stars, and black holes. In this project you will contribute to the second phase of the FLARES project. This will involve running new simulations, analysing their results, and comparing against observational datasets.
The project will make widespread use of Python but advanced prior knowledge is not critical. The project may also involve learning and using c, which is used for the core simulation codes. In addition to attendance at national and international conferences it is expected that you will visit collaborators in Europe and/or the US.