About First Light
Project First Light is an ERC funded research activity whose principal goal is to examine the role that early galaxies played in driving cosmic reionisation. Via deep imaging in blank fields and through gravitationally-lensing clusters, galaxies in the reionisation era are examined spectroscopically using a variety of large ground-based telescopes. Lower redshift analogues of galaxies in the reionisation era are also studied in detail to understand the physical processes by which Lyman continuum photons are produced and can escape into the intergalactic medium. This focused observational activity is supplemented by a theoretical component based on numerical simulations incorporating radiative transfer and the modeling of nebular emission lines as a probe of the nature of the ionising radiation field. The group is actively planning programmes to be undertaken with future facilities including the James Webb Space Telescope.
Our work so far
- In May 2018, our team made an important contribution towards astronomers' understanding of the timescales during which the first galaxies appeared in the Universe, by studying a galaxy formed 250 million years after the Big Bang. These results come from observations carried out with the ALMA observatory and the Very Large Telescope.
- Publication: The onset of star formation 250 million years after the Big Bang
- News article (BBC News) Scientists detect oxygen legacy of first stars
- YouTube video explaining our result
- In March 2017, our team made a significant breakthrough in understanding the early formation of stars in the galaxy when the universe was about 4% old. This important breakthrough was reported globally and was the result of our dedicated research into understanding our universe.
- You can read a popular summary of our progress published in EU Research.
- Our project has seen a number of papers published, which are available on UCL Open Access and via our website.
About the Team
The team is led by Professor Richard Ellis, and supported by both Research Associates and PhD students. There are strong collaborative links with research groups at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, Caltech, the University of Arizona, University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of Tokyo. Please see our First Light Team page for more information on the team.