Galaxy evolution in the William Herschel Deep Field
In this Thesis we investigate the evolutionary histories of faint field galaxies using extremely deep optical and near-infrared photometry. Our work is centred on a 50 arcmin(^2) region at high galactic latitude which we call "The William Herschel Deep Field" (WHDF). In this work we describe three new near-infrared surveys of this field. In considering both this infrared data and the existing optical data, our broad aims are to increase our understanding of both the growth of galaxy clustering in the Universe and also to determine the star-formation histories of the field galaxy population. We consider our observations primarily in the context of luminosity evolution models in low density universes, but alternative scenarios are considered. Near-infrared galaxy counts derived from our catalogues are consistent with the predictions of our models, without the need for a steep faint-end slope for the galaxy luminosity function. We find that optical-infrared colour distributions of infrared-selected galaxies in the WHDF are deficient in red, early-type galaxies. This is consistent with the predictions of evolutionary models in which these systems have a small amount of on-going star-formation. We measure the amplitude of galaxy clustering in the WHDF for galaxies selected in optical and near-infrared bandpasses using the projected two-point correlation function. By comparing our measured clustering amplitudes with the predictions of our models we find that in all bandpasses the growth of galaxy clustering is approximately fixed in proper co-ordinates, again assuming a low-density Universe. Finally, an analysis of errors on the correlation function measurements suggest that discrepancies between our work and those of other authors may be explained by an underestimation of statistical errors.