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Australian Human Resources Institute Diversity Awards 2013 Finalist

Trevor Mendel (MPE Garching)

"The highs and lows of galaxy evolution"

Abstract. Galaxies today are much less active than their counterparts 8 billion years ago. Since then, the cosmic star formation rate density has decreased by nearly a factor of 10, so that today over half of all galaxies are passive. Despite the wealth of observational data tracing the buildup of passive galaxies with cosmic time, our physical picture of galaxies' transition from star forming to passive remains incomplete, due in part to the short-lived nature of observational quenching signatures. In this talk I will discuss the selection of a large sample of rare local galaxies "caught in the act" of shutting down their star formation, made possible by the huge data volumes of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. I will show that the presence of a stellar bulge seems to be a necessary part of the quenching process, and that stellar mass appears to be the best indicator of whether or not a galaxy will cease forming stars regardless of its surrounding environment.

Held in the AAO Large Meeting Room (Room 1, Ground Floor, Building 3) at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, 05 February 2013