Steward Observatory/NOAO Joint Colloquium- The View of Early Massive Galaxies in the Run Up to JWST
Dr. Christina Williams, University of Arizona
Abstract: The past decades of extragalactic surveys have revealed surprising discoveries about the formation histories of massive galaxies. We now know that massive galaxies evolved rapidly in the early Universe, halting their star-formation as early as 2 billion years after the Big Bang. Still, the astrophysics behind their rapid growth and early death are longstanding problems in our theoretical understanding of galaxy formation. In this talk, I will focus on two key frontiers in the study of massive galaxies. First, I will present results elucidating the formation process of massive galaxies using their morphologies, stellar populations, and molecular gas properties at Cosmic Noon (redshift z~2), the epoch when the majority of massive galaxies stop forming stars ("quench"). Second, I will discuss the recent discovery of infrared-"dark" galaxies, a significant population of massive dust-obscured galaxies at z>4 that have been missed by current extragalactic surveys. Dark galaxies are a missing link in our picture of massive galaxy growth, and represent a preview of discoveries to come with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). JWST will be the premier infrared astronomical facility after its launch in 2021, and its extragalactic observations will revolutionize our understanding of galaxy evolution by breaking the redshift and sensitivity barriers of existing facilities. I will conclude with a discussion of the science predictions for the the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES), a joint Cycle 1 program of the NIRCam and NIRSpec GTO teams. This survey will produce the deepest near-infrared imaging and spectroscopy ever taken, promising to resolve many outstanding questions about the life cycles of massive galaxies.