Northwestern Events Calendar


Astro Seminar: Tjitske Starkenburg: Unraveling Galaxy Evolution: tracing observed galaxy properties to galaxy formation physics

When: Tuesday, February 1, 2022
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM Central

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Samantha Westlake  

Group: Physics and Astronomy Astrophysics Seminars

Category: Academic


Abstract: Galaxies form and evolve under a nonlinear combination of numerous internal and external physical processes.  Together these processes determine a galaxy’s properties, but even individually they may leave distinct signatures behind.  Identifying and disentangling these observational signatures can provide new constraints the physics of galaxy formation and remains very challenging.  In this talk I will discuss approaches to this challenge focusing on two separate but complementary topics: one focused on galaxy star formation rates and quenching, and one focused on galaxy mass accretion histories, stellar halos and tidal debris.

In the Isolated and Quiescent (IQ) Collaboratory we perform careful comparisons between theoretical models and observations to reach novel insights into the physical processes governing galaxy quenching.  The galaxy star formation sequence and the population of non-star forming or quiescent galaxies vary significantly from dataset to dataset and across different definitions of ‘quenching’ and ‘quiescent’.  Through building consistent mock observational data for a large set of galaxies from multiple galaxy formation models and applying data-driven analysis techniques, we perform apples-to-apples comparisons of the star forming and quiescent galaxy populations in observations and simulations, infer physical properties, and provide new predictions.

Secondly, I will discuss recent results and ongoing work on understanding the link between a galaxy’s accretion history and the stellar distribution in its halo. Additionally, I will describe novel predictions for the observability of stellar halos and tidal streams in nearby galaxies with the upcoming Roman Space Telescope and the Rubin Observatory.  I will highlight how this low-surface brightness discovery space provides unique constraints on hierarchical galaxy formation and on the physical processes that drive galaxy formation and evolution.

Speaker: Tjitske Starkenburg, Northwestern University

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