One of the most important and unanswered questions in modern astrophysics is how do galaxies form and evolve? At the E.A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics, staff and students use contemporary and cutting edge observations and simulations to tackle this question.
Part of the reason why this question is tricky to answer is that it is akin to asking if it is nature or nurture that determines a galaxy's fate. If a galaxy was "born" as a spiral galaxy, has on-going star-formation, and is coloured blue, then will it always be that way? Or are there processes (both internal to the galaxy and external to it) that could change its shape in to an elliptical spheroid, cripple its star-formation rate, and radically change its colour? If so, what are they? And which one(s) are the most important at different times and places of the galaxy's life?
By using powerful combinations of both telescopic observations from across the globe as well as satellites in orbit, alongside novel simulations of galaxies at critical points in their lives, our research is disentangling the effects of internal and external processes that can determine the future evolution pathways of galaxies.
Image: Inside the Coma Cluster of Galaxies. Image credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA). Acknowledgment: D. Carter (LJMU) et al. and the Coma HST ACS Treasury Team