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Formation and Evolution of Galaxies and Supermassive Black Holes

Work within this area focuses on the understanding of the mechanisms and physical processes responsible for galaxy formation and evolution, as well as the role played by accretion onto supermassive black holes, across the cosmic epochs. This activity combines mulitwavelength observations of local and distant galaxies and quasars, obtained by exploiting many of the major observing facilities worldwide, together with theoretical models and state-of-the-art numerical cosmological simulations.


Specific focus of the KICC researchers is the investigation of the following issues:

  • the role of gas flows (both inflows and outflows) in regulating star formation in galaxies, and in particular the mechanisms responsible for the quenching star formation of in galaxies;
  • the role of galaxy "environment" (i.e. whether galaxies living in overdense regions evolve differently relative to isolated galaxies or not);
  • the evolution of the chemical elements in galaxies as a tracer of the star formation history;
  • the investigation of the dust content and of dust properties in galaxies;
  • the interplay between accretion onto supermassive black holes and the evolution of their host galaxies;
  • properties of the first proto-galaxies in the primordial Universe.


These issues are investigated both through extensive cosmological numerical simulations (e.g. Illustris) and through extensive multi-band observing programmes and in particular, by exploiting some of the major observing facilities, such as the ESO-VLT (in particular by exploiting its SINFONI, MUSE, Xshooter and KMOS instruments, also through Large Programmes, such as Klever), ALMA, NOEMA and by also taking part to the multi-IFU Manga survey, and also by exploiting large scale imaging and spectroscopic surveys (DES, VISTA)

Additional major observing programmes are planned with future facilities, in which we're heavily involved and, in particular, JWST, MOONS@VLT, DESI, LSST, 4MOST and HIRES@E-ELT.

People involved in this area are:

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Scientists identify exoplanets where life could develop as it did on Earth

Aug 03, 2018

Scientists have identified a group of planets outside our solar system where the same chemical conditions that may have led to life on Earth exist.

From an almost perfect Universe to the best of both worlds

Jul 31, 2018

The Planck consortium has made their final data release, including new processing of the cosmic microwave background temperature and polarisation data. This legacy dataset confirms the model of an 'almost perfect Universe', with some remaining oddities giving researchers some intriguing details to puzzle over

Knighthood for Roberto Maiolino

Jun 12, 2018

The President of the Italian Republic has knighted Professor Roberto Maiolino, Director of the Kavli Institute, in the Order of the Star of Italy.

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