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Blog

Filtering by Tag: First galaxies

"Dark-ages reionization and galaxy formation simulation XIV: Gas accretion, cooling and star formation in dwarf galaxies at high redshift" - Qin et al. (2018)

Alan Duffy

One of the challenges in exploring the early universe is that it is so far from us, as we peer billions of light years away to see it as it was all those billion of years ago. That means small faint objects, like dwarf galaxies, that we suspect do the main job of reionising the universe are nearly impossible to measure. It's therefore a challenge to constrain the DRAGONS universe; one way is to wait until little things build into bigger things that you then can see and test those. The other is to constrain the Semi-Analytic Models against the hydro simulations of Smaug. In this astounding exhaustive and thorough review of the two techniques my student Yuxiang Qin explores the connections and learns what to modify in one to mimic the other. Just being on top of one of these techniques would considered impressive in a PhD, to do both is truly exceptional. 

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"Dark-ages reionization and galaxy formation simulation X: The small contribution of quasars to reionization" - Qin et al. (2017)

Alan Duffy

One of the oldest questions in the study of Reionisation, the few hundred million years in which almost all of the hydrogen in the Universe was ionised effectively at once, is simple - where does the UV light to ionise the gas come from? One very popular idea is blackholes, or rather the accretion disks around them, where material swirls around the gravitational plughole become incredibly hot and bright in UV / X-ray emission. This fantastic work by Yuxiang Qin used DRAGONS universes to show that there simply isn't enough of these sources, known as AGN or Quasars, to do the job - or at least not if you want to match the number of blackholes that exist today. That's because to be bright, and reionise the universe, they have to feed a lot and in the process grow too large relative to what we see today. This work undoubtedly disappointed some Quasar fans out there, but that's the beauty of science, the facts don't care what you might hope and you have to follow the results to their conclusion. 

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"Dark-ages reionization and galaxy formation simulation XI: Clustering and halo masses of high redshift galaxies" = Park et al. (2017)

Alan Duffy

Where do galaxies form? how big can they be? Do galaxies 'prefer' to lie closer to one another or further apart? And how does all of this change across Cosmic Time? These are just some of the questions Jaehong Park asked within the DRAGONS team in this paper. To explore how galaxies grow near one another, known as clustering, and how they grow within the larger dark matter halos, aka bias, Jaehong analysed countless thousands of simulated galaxies. Compared against one another, at different outputs from the simulated universe of DRAGONS, the overall distributions were robustly analysed with statistical tools that then permitted comparison with images from Hubble. The work is a staggering scale and one I'm sure Jaehong will be proud of for many years to come.

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"Dark-ages reionization and galaxy formation simulation XIII: AGN quenching of high-redshift star formation in ZF-COSMOS-20115" - Qin et al. (2017)

Alan Duffy

A lovely piece of work by my student Yuxiang Qin, and amazingly rapid turn around of a paper using the DRAGONS series of supercomputer models. The newly discovered galaxy ZF-Cosmos-20115 had some remarkably strange properties that at first glance seemed to bend the laws of galaxy formation to be so large so soon after the Big Bang. This work instead revealed that the rapid stellar mass gain, and the resulting quiescence thereafter, can be naturally explained by significant mergers of smaller objects that created the large stellar nucleus - but this large central bulge itself then inhibited future star formation. This was then tracked back in time in the DRAGONS universe to reveal that the rapidly growing black holes of the earlier universe could indeed by housed in what then becomes these strange quiescent galaxies at later times.

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"Dark-ages reionization and galaxy-formation simulation VII: The sizes of high-redshift galaxies" - Chuanwu et al. (2017)

Alan Duffy

A lovely prediction paper from Chuanwu Liu of the DRAGONS collaboration showing the expected sizes for the most distant galaxies that current (and future) telescopes are trying to observe. The tentative existing detections appear to be well explained by our model of galaxy formation with the effective radius (i.e. the size of the disk of the galaxy) being larger for brighter objects but only with a power law scaling of 0.25! In other words a galaxy ten thousand times more luminous will be a disk galaxy only ten times wider. Finally, we make clear that the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope (the James Webb Space Telescope) will be unlikely to see these tiny disks and instead we will have to wait for ground based extremely large telescopes like the Giant Magellan Telescope (and critically one in which Australia is heavily invested).

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"Dark-ages reionization and galaxy-formation simulation VI: The origins and fate of the highest known redshift galaxy" - Mutch et al. (2016b)

Alan Duffy

The recent discovery by Oesch et al. (2016) of a far-off galaxy seen just 400 million years after the Big Bang but already having accumulated a billion Sun's worth of stars was considered a bizarre object. Yet the simulated DRAGONS universe apparently contains several analogues as shown in this beautiful work by my colleague Dr Simon Mutch. We show that such a monstrously oversized baby galaxy is possible if it grows rapidly but consistently throughout time and not as a result of cannibalising neighbouring objects through galaxy mergers as is oft suspected.

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Year in space - ABC Breakfast News TV

Alan Duffy

What an incredible year it’s been for Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko orbiting 5440 times around the Earth and 340 days later they have traveled a distance equal to that too Mars. This is the test needed to know what humanity will experience getting to the red planet and the science from this has only started. As a control sample there’s Scott's twin brother Mark Kelly, who offers the best (though even as an identical twin not perfect) comparison to try to observe changes in Scott’s genetic profile due to space. 

Also a big shout out to NASA's awesome Hubble Space Telescope finding the most distant galaxy. Madness that it’s forming so vigorously when the universe was just a few hundred million years old.

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DRAGONS unleashed!

Alan Duffy

DRAGONS is out! Our first six collaboration papers are on the arXiv and submitted to the journals. Can’t describe what a relief this is for myself and the team..! Led by U.Melb’s Professor Stuart Wyithe it's been a few hard years of science, simulating the first galaxies after the Big Bang and trying to figure out what these look like from telescopes on Earth, 13 billion years later (and 40 billion light years distant) but finally the results are in and they’re amazing. 

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