Powerful starburst and AGN (Active Galactic Nuclei) activity occur when mergers and interactions of gas-rich systems funnel massive amounts of molecular gas and dust into the remnant centers of luminous and ultraluminous infrared galaxies ((U)LIRGs). In these compact regions molecular gas settles in rotating cores and fuels the activity. Furthermore, there is mounting evidence that feedback from starbursts and AGNs drives massive cold molecular outflows that can regulate black hole growth and turn off star formation. Molecular gas is therefore a fundamental parameter for galaxy evolution. Detailed studies of the molecular properties of local mergers, LIRGS, ULIRGs, and AGNs are thus essential both for defining the evolution of present day galaxies - and sorting out key astrophysical processes in their more distant predecessors. Probing the nature and evolution of the molecular gas requires tracers that can penetrate vast columns of dust while enabling unique investigations of chemical and physical conditions. The most compact obscured nuclei may host enshrouded supermassive black holes and need to be studied with radiatively excited molecular emission to get past the optically thick barrier. We founded the European MasTER Network to address the nature of AGNs and starbursts and their associated molecular outflows. In particular we aim to understand the evolutionary importance of obscured activity - near and far.
Professor vid Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Astronomy and Plasmaphysics
Funding Chalmers participation during 2015–2018