Galaxy evolution: Tracing the cosmic star formation history

The topic of galaxy formation and evolution is a fundamental part of modern astrophysics. Improving our understanding of this topic has direct implications on the study of our Milky Way as well as cosmology. In this project we look back 10-13 billion years in time to study galaxies during phases of intense star formation. We search for galaxies that are gas and dust-rich and have high star formation rates, hence with the potential to grow rapidly. These galaxies could be the progenitors of spiral galaxies such as the Milky Way or of elliptical galaxies that are very old. We use state-of-the-art millimeter and radio wave interferometric telescopes, such as ALMA, EVLA, IRAM PdBI and MeerKAT, to do molecular spectroscopy in order to determine the physical properties of the distant galaxies. We search for and study relatively faint galaxies that likely are similar to local starburst galaxies, instead of looking for the very brightest galaxies that are unique to the early Universe and so far have been better studied due to observational limitations. The two main parts of the project are: 1) detailed study of newly discovered galaxies in the IRAM Lensing Survey and initiating an ALMA Lensing Survey, and 2) preparation for the large key science project MESMER that will commence in 2018 using the new MeerKAT telescope. We aim to determine 1) how these starburst galaxies will evolve towards our time, 2) the molecular density as an initial condition for cosmic star formation history.


Kirsten Kraiberg Knudsen (contact)

Docent vid Space, Earth and Environment, Astronomy and Plasmaphysics, Extragalactic Astrophysics


Swedish Research Council (VR)

Funding Chalmers participation during 2012–2015 with 3,660,000.00 SEK

Related Areas of Advance and Infrastructure

Basic sciences


Onsala Space Observatory


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