Understanding how galaxies form and evolve as a function of cosmological time (z, redshift) is a key goal in modern astrophysics. Standard theoretical models address this problem in a framework assuming a Lambda-CDM cosmology, where the hierarchical gravitational grow of dark matter haloes trace the large-scale structure of the observed baryonic matter. This framework is governed by a set of differential equations which can be computationally solved by the powerful modern computers. Nevertheless, at galactic-scales the evolution is driven by dissipative non-linear processes which are far more complex than what the theory could predict. It is at this point where observations of different kind of galaxies, and clusters of galaxies, at all redshifts, become an essential ingredient to feed semi-analytical models of galaxy formation and evolution.
Remarkable progress in the study of galaxy formation has been made over the last decade, primarily through deep optical and near-IR observations. Although the cosmic history of star formation, and the build-up of stellar mass, have been well quantified as a function of galaxy mass and environment, through its peak at z ∼ 2 and back to the near-edge of cosmic reionization (z > 6), the mechanisms that shape such evolution and generate the variety of morphological classes that we observe in the local Universe are far from being constrained. While progress has been impressive, optical studies of galaxy formation are limited to the stellar and ionized gas emission, being plagued by uncertainties in the way in which photons are re-processed by the gas and dust particles. Studies at centimeter through sub-millimeter wavelengths are required to probe deep into the earliest, dust obscured phases of galaxy formation, to reveal the cool gas that constitutes the fuel for star formation in galaxies.
Our research group has endeavoured various campaigns for characterising the formation and evolution of galaxies as a function of redshift. These days, the most remarkable collaborations in which we are involved are:
.--The VUDS survey which collected spectroscopic redshifts for 8000 galaxies at 2<z<6.5 in three of extragalactic fields (CFHTLS-D01, COSMOS and CDFS),
.--ALMA observations for obtaining deep wide-field sub-millimetre imaging and spectroscopy in fields previously observed by the Hubble Space Telescope, including the HUDF and the Frontier Fields,
.--Matched VLT IFU and ALMA imaging at sub-arcsecond resolution of H-alpha emitting star-forming galaxies (e.g. from the HiZELS survey),
.--The largest extragalactic surveys taken by the Herschel Space Observatory, H-ATLAS and HerMES, at far-IR wavelengths in fields with plethora of multi-wavelength coverage,
.--The CANDELS granted 900 Hubble orbits (the largest HST program ever approved) to image with the WFC3 camera in the near-IR five of the most studied extragalactic fields (COSMOS, EGS, UDS, CDFS and HDFN),
Principal investigators in this area: