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Observations of the High Redshift Universe



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Observations of the High Redshift Universe arXiv astro ph 0701024v1 1 Jan 2007 Richard S Ellis1 Astronomy Department California Institute of Technology rse astro caltech edu ABSTRACT In this series of lectures aimed for non specialists I review the considerable progress that has been made in the past decade in understanding how galaxies form and evolve Complementing the presentations of my theoretical colleagues I focus primarily on the impressive achievements of observational astronomers A credible framework the CDM model now exists for interpreting these observations this is a universe with dominant dark energy whose structure grows slowly from the gravitational clumping of dark matter halos in which baryonic gas cools and forms stars The standard model fares well in matching the detailed properties of local galaxies and is addressing the growing body of detailed multi wavelength data at high redshift Both the star formation history and the assembly of stellar mass can now be empirically traced from redshifts z 6 to the present day but how the various distant populations relate to one another and precisely how stellar assembly is regulated by feedback and environmental processes remains unclear In the latter part of my lectures I discuss how these studies are being extended to locate and characterize the earliest sources beyond z 6 Did early star forming galaxies contribute signi cantly to the reionization process and over what period did this occur Neither theory nor observations are well developed in this frontier topic but the rst results are exciting and provide important guidance on how we might use more powerful future facilities to ll in the details 2 Richard S Ellis 1 Role of Observations in Cosmology Galaxy Formation 1 1 The Observational Renaissance These are exciting times in the eld of cosmology and galaxy formation To justify this claim it is useful to review the dramatic progress made in the subject over the past 25 years I remember vividly the rst



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