Dark Ages to Dark Endings: The Life Cycle of Galaxies in the New Cosmology


One of the unheralded triumphs of twenty-first century astronomy has been the development of a nearly complete picture of how galaxies, that largest stellar structures in the Universe, formed and evolved.  Even more remarkably, this entire process can be calculated theoretically and numerically, beginning with quantum fluctuations in the Big Bang itself, which subsequently grew and aggregated into ever larger clumps of matter, to eventually form the galaxies and stars we observe today.  This process of aggregation, galaxy formation, and galaxy growth continues to this day.  The same Cold Dark Matter cosmology which accounts for nearly all of the large-scale structure and properties of the Universe itself also can account for the observed masses, structures, formation, and evolution of galaxies, even reproducing Hubble's sequence of galaxy types and structures.  This lecture will trace the life cycles of galaxies from their birth to the present day to the future, and review the many sets of observational clues and theoretical calculations which have led to one of the most important astrophysical breakthroughs of our generation.

Room 202, West Building of Physics School.
Robert C. Kennicutt Jr., Plumian Professor, Cambridge University
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - 2:30pm to 4:00pm