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Title: Galaxy evolution : near and far
Author: Bothwell, Matthew Stuart
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2011
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The formation of stars from interstellar gas is the cornerstone of galaxy evolution. This thesis represents work undertaken in order to characterise the role of cool interstellar gas, and its relation to star formation, in galaxy evolution across cosmic time. In particular, it concentrates on star forming galaxies at the extremes of the galaxy assembly spectrum - extremely faint dwarfs, and extremely luminous starbursts - in an attempt to test the limits of galaxy evolution models. The thesis falls into two complimentary halves, addressing topics in the low redshift and high redshift Universe respectively. In the low redshift Universe, I discuss multi-wavelength studies of large samples of z rv O galaxies, which include extremely faint dwarf galaxies in the Local Volume. Using these samples, it is possible to derive a multitude of physical parameters (including star formation rates, stellar masses, and gas masses) which allow the interrelationship between star formation and gas content to be assessed in a statistically significant manner. In particular, modern wide field surveys (combined with deep, volume-limited data) allow trends to be analysed across many orders of magnitude in galaxy mass and star formation rate, shedding light on the global properties of galaxies in the local Universe. Moving to higher redshift, I discuss targeted observations of molecular gas in extreme star forming galaxies in the early Universe. These 'sub-millimetre' galaxies number amongst the most luminous objects ever discovered, and molecular gas observations have the power to uncover many of their physical properties, including their morphologies, kinematics, and star formation behaviour. I begin by presenting high-resolution observations of a small number of these galaxies at z rv 2, and discussing the implications for galaxy evolution studies. The final chapter of this thesis consists of the results of a survey for molecular gas in sub-millimetre galaxies conducted over the last decade, which represents the largest single study of molecular gas in the early Universe to date.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Interstellar matter ; Stars--Formation ; Galaxies--Evolution