AYA2015-64346-C2-1-P: Galaxies near and far and their active nuclei

​This is a 3y project (2016-18). The PI is Francisco J. Carrera and also participate X. Barcons, A. Alonso-Herrero, S. Mateos, J. García González and Ignacio Ordovás.

Galaxies are the "building blocks" of the Universe and understanding their formation and evolution is one of the main topics of extragalactic Astronomy, as recognised in the Astronet Science Vision Q3.4 "How were galaxies assembled?". In this respect, one of the most significant recent discoveries has been to realise that most (if not all) massive local galaxies host a supermassive black hole (SMBH) in their centres, with a mass proportional to that of the galaxy bulge. Furthermore, star formation in galaxies and the growth of SMBH by accretion (shining as Active Galactic Nuclei -AGN-) are found to follow parallel trends with cosmic time, at least back to z~3-4. All this has brought forward the question of the relationship between star formation and AGN activity in the context of galaxy evolution. In this  background, this project aims at understanding the relationship between galaxies and their active nuclei since the time where both were growing and forming stars most (z~3) to the present day, as well as investigating the interplay between both processes.

We will approach this general tasks in several inter-connected and complementary ways: Work Package WP1) For local galaxies hosting an AGN (z<~0.1), we will explore the properties of the obscuring material as a function of AGN luminosity and class, as well as their nuclear star formation and the physical properties of the molecular gas in their nuclear region. WP3) We will complete the census of obscured AGN at higher redshifts (z~1-4), combining the strengths of several methods, using them to find AGN in high redshift galaxies, to examine the correspondence (or lack of it) of the properties of the galaxies with the presence and properties of an AGN in them.

We plan to tackle these tasks by obtaining and using observational data in state-of-the-art facilities across the world (including those with major investments from Spain like GTC, VLT and ALMA at ESO, XMM-Newton from ESA and JWST from NASA) and over the electromagnetic spectrum (X-ray, optical, infrared, submm and radio), to get a perpective as wide as possible into the processes involved.

Some of these data are already in hand, and other follow-up data will be obtained through proposal submission in subsequent calls.

In parallel, we will also continue contributing (WP4), sometimes in a leading role at the national and international level, to the scientific development of the future generation of astronomical missions, some of them in critical stages of their development (Athena, SPICA) or close to launch (JWST).

  • Instituto de Física de Cantabria
    Edificio Juan Jordá
    Avenida de los Castros, s/n
    E-39005 Santander
    Cantabria, España

  • El Instituto de Física de Cantabria es un Centro Mixto del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas y de la Universidad de Cantabria.