Understanding the Astrophysics of Galaxy Evolution: the role of spectroscopic surveys in the next decade
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Understanding the Astrophysics of Galaxy Evolution: the role of spectroscopic surveys in the next decade

  • Author(s): Bell, E
  • Davis, M
  • Dey, A
  • Dokkum, PV
  • Ellis, R
  • Eisenstein, D
  • Elvis, M
  • Faber, S
  • Frenk, C
  • Genzel, R
  • Greene, J
  • Gunn, J
  • Kauffmann, G
  • Knapp, J
  • Kriek, M
  • Larkin, J
  • Maraston, C
  • Nandra, K
  • Ostriker, J
  • Prada, F
  • Schlegel, D
  • Strauss, M
  • Szalay, A
  • Tremonti, C
  • White, M
  • White, S
  • Wyse, R
  • et al.
Abstract

Over the last decade optical spectroscopic surveys have characterized the low redshift galaxy population and uncovered populations of star-forming galaxies back to z ~ 7. This work has shown that the primary epoch of galaxy building and black hole growth occurs at redshifts of 2 to 3. The establishment of the concordance LCDM cosmology shifted the focus of galaxy population studies from constraining cosmological parameters to characterizing the processes which regulate the formation and evolution of galaxies.In the next decade, high redshift observers will attempt to formulate a coherent evolutionary picture connecting galaxies in the high redshift Universe to galaxies today. In order to link galaxy populations at different redshifts, we must not only characterize their evolution in a systematic way, we must establish which physical processes are responsible for it. Considerable progress has already been made in understanding how galaxies evolved from z ~ 1 to the present day. Large spectroscopic surveys in the near infrared are required to push these studies back towards the main epoch of galaxy building. Only then will we understand the full story of the formation of L* galaxies like our own Milky Way. A large near-IR spectroscopic survey will also provide the calibration needed to avoid systematics in the large photometric programs proposed to study the nature of dark matter and dark energy. We provide an outline design for a multi-object 0.4 to 1.8 micron spectrograph, which could be placed on an existing telescope, and which would allow a full characterization of the galaxy population out to z ~ 2. We strongly recommend a serious further study to design a real instrument, which will be required for galaxy formation studies to advance to the next frontier.

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