Galaxy Formation

There are roughly 200 billion galaxies in the universe. Understanding how they form and evolve is the primary challenge to astrophysical cosmology, and a central focus of research at CCAPP.

Observing some of the oldest galaxies offers clues about aspects of the formation of the universe such as chemistry and sequences of events. Clues can be found in our own neighborhood, too; even focusing just on the Milky Way and the 200 billion stars it contains can lead to answers about dark matter and dark energy throughout the universe—as well as the origins of the elements that make up our human bodies and the rest of life on Earth.

CCAPP scientists use theory work, simulations, and observational data from the Sloan Dark Sky Survey the Dark Energy Survey to study myriad aspects of galaxy formation and evolution, including elemental abundances and the enrichment process, the evolution of supernovae and rates of gamma ray bursts, and more. Spectrographs from at observatories around the world, particularly the Large Binocular Telescope, are used to unlock the vast stores of galactic information contained within stars and interstellar gas clouds.

As we expand our ability to observe the universe’s farther reaches, CCAPP researchers’ ongoing discoveries about galaxy formation and evolution may lead to answers about the very origin of the universe and life itself.