Purdue University Graduate School
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Understanding the Formation of Distant Galaxies in the Context of Large-Scale Structure

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posted on 2022-04-26, 00:59 authored by Yun HuangYun Huang

  Understanding the formation and evolution of galaxies is one of the most fundamental questions in modern astronomy. While it is widely accepted that galaxy formation needs to be understood in the context of cosmic structure formation of dark matter, a complex interplay of different physical processes that drive galaxy formation makes it challenging to elucidate how the large-scale environment of dark matter influences galaxies, particularly in their formative epoch (z > 2). 

    As the most luminous nebular emission arising from star formation,  Lyalpha provides a promising and effective tool to study the young universe and nascent galaxies.

  At z>2, Lyalpha emission is redshifted into the visible window that is detectable by ground-based telescopes. Existing studies also suggest that strong Lyalpha-emitting galaxies represent a young and low-mass galaxy population and therefore are the best visible tracers of the large-scale structure of the distant universe. 

    In this thesis, I present two complementary studies designed to address these questions using Lyalpha emission as a cosmological tool. In Chapter 2, I investigate the kinematics and spatial distribution of the gas-phase interstellar and circumgalactic media using compact and diffuse Lyalpha emission in and around distant galaxies. I also carry out a comprehensive characterization of how Lyalpha properties correlate with other galaxy properties and the environment that galaxies reside in. In Chapter 3, I explore how Lyalpha-emitting galaxies trace the large-scale structure characterized by other means; I also conduct a detailed investigation of the distribution of different `types' of galaxies and H i gas  in  and around the most massive cosmic structure known to date. These investigations are informative in  building clear  expectations for the ongoing and upcoming experiments -- including the Legacy Survey for Space and Time, James Webb Space Telescope, Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instruments, and Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy eXperiment -- in obtaining a detailed picture of galaxy evolution in the context of their environments. 


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Physics and Astronomy

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Kyoung-Soo Lee

Additional Committee Member 2

Matthew Lister

Additional Committee Member 3

Dan Milisavljevic

Additional Committee Member 4

Francis Robicheaux