The picture below shows the different stages in the history of the Universe, and how far back in time the observations from the Hubble Ultra Deep Field probe. My research primarily involves investigating how galaxies form and evolve in the young Universe, or more accurately the Universe when it was less than 1.5 Gyr old.
“Hubble Ultra Deep Field diagram” by NASA.gov – http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/56534main_hubble_diagram.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Some questions that drive my research:
- What can we actually tell about galaxies in the young Universe, how many stars do they have and how fast are they forming them? These are very faint galaxies and we don’t have a lot of data on each individual object, so the question ‘What can we tell about these galaxies and how accurately can we measure it?’ is just as important as ‘How massive are they and how fast are they forming stars?’
- What do they look like? Do any of them resemble the beautiful disky spirals that we see in the local Universe? If not, what’s different about the young Universe that would mean that we haven’t formed them yet?
- How are they evolving? What do they evolve into?