Disputation: Galaxies in the epoch of reionization: Investigating the high-redshift galaxy population through simulations and observations

Christian Binggeli defends their thesis. The opponent is Stephen Wilkins (University of Sussex).


The cosmic reionization is the last major gas phase transition in cosmic history, yet it remains poorly understood. Current constraints indicate that early star-forming galaxies drove the reionization process through producing and releasing large numbers of ionizing photons into the intergalactic medium. However, our understanding of the ionizing escape fraction (fesc) and the general properties of high-redshift galaxies is still limited.
In this thesis, simulated galaxies and observations are used to investigate epoch-of-reionization galaxies and to explore methods that can aid future investigations of such objects. Using simulations, we have shown that it may be possible to constrain fesc in epoch-of reionization galaxies using quite simple diagnostics that should be observable with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). We also show that variations in star formation activity larger than those predicted in our simulations may lead to a possible degeneracy with high fesc. However, auxiliary information obtained with the JWST may allow us to disentangle variations in the star formation activity from high fesc.
We compare galaxies from several simulations to the recently spectroscopically confirmed z=9.1096 galaxy MACS1149-JD1. We find that none of the simulations are able to reproduce the large Balmer break observed in MACS1149-JD1, and argue that unless it represents an outlier in the high-redshift galaxy population, this may indicate that the simulations fail to capture some key physics. Finally, we present ALMA observations of the z=7.6637 galaxy z7_GSD_3811. This object remains undetected in several commonly detected FIR emission lines and FIR dust emission. Using SED-fitting and by comparing our observations to models and low-redshift observations, we show that our non-detections could indicate that the object is poor in metals and dust.
Our findings could help future observers to further constrain the nature of high-redshift galaxies and their role in reionization.

Online via Zoom: https://uu-se.zoom.us/j/68040940351