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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@ELT.

Current Kavli based researchers involved in this area are:

Researchers previously based in this Kavli group:

KICC Annual Report 2019

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Galaxies in the Infant Universe Were Surprisingly Mature

Oct 27, 2020

Massive galaxies were already much more mature in the early universe than previously expected. This was shown by an international team of astronomers—including researchers from the Kavli Institute for Cosmology (KICC) and the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) — who studied 118 distant galaxies with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2020

Oct 06, 2020

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2020 has been awarded to Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel, and Andrea Ghez, for their discoveries about one of the most exotic phenomena in the universe: the black hole.

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