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Cosmic Dawn: The Search for the First Galaxies

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Edward Cackett.

Astronomers have long sought to trace the history of the universe from its origins to the present day. Our earliest picture comes just 400,000 years after the Big Bang. It was at this point that stable atoms formed for the first time. With no stars yet shining, the cosmos was permeated by a gas of hydrogen and shrouded in darkness. Our next snapshot comes nearly one billion years later, revealing a vastly different landscape. By this epoch, galaxies were commonplace, some of them already quite massive and containing supermassive black holes at their center. The period between these two very different epochs corresponds to one of the final missing chapters in our knowledge of cosmic history. Buried in this unexplored era are the keys to understanding the formation of the first stars, galaxies, black holes. The world’s largest telescopes have recently begun to push back the cosmic frontier well into the first billion years, providing a glimpse of some of the earliest galaxies. In this talk, I will review recent progress from these observational campaigns and prospects for future discoveries with next-generation facilities.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Sciences Group series.

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