UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics


Galaxy Formation & Evolution

Galaxy Formation and Evolution
In the current cosmological paradigm, early fluctuations of the dark matter distribution grow into stable structures (halos), attracting baryonic matter that cools, triggering star formation. Halos merge to form larger galaxies, which develop a spheroidal, stellar component and inflowing cooling gas or dark matter collapse to spawn a central, massive black hole. The relationship between the mass of the black hole and that of the surrounding spheroid can be explained if the black hole regulates the star formation via some feedback mechanism. The ‘baryon physics’ comprising gas collapse, star and black hole formation and subsequent feedback, is the main bottleneck in our understanding of galaxy formation. 

Our group includes experts in both the theoretical and observational sides of star formation in galaxies, chemical enrichment and AGN physics. MSSL has recently expanded its research in this theme, with the emphasis on the analysis of data from the ongoing and future missions in which MSSL plays a key role. 

The coming period will see spectacular advances in this field. Imminently, Herschel (launched on 14th May 2009) opened a new window of exploration in the far infrared Universe. Amongst a number of UK groups, MSSL has played a major role in the Herschel SPIRE instrument. MSSL staff has been a leader in designing the major guaranteed-time extragalactic survey HerMES to be carried out with Herschel and which will be transformational for studies in this science area. 

Gaia (launched on 19th Dec. 2013) will reveal the kinematics and chemical abundances of our own Galaxy in unprecedented accuracy. MSSL have also had major roles in both the mission development of Gaia and in the data processing consortium for the spectroscopy, which places us optimally to exploit that mission. On one hand, we will test theories of galaxy formation with our observations of the distant Universe ‘as it happened’ and on the other hand, we will confront theories for the chemical and dynamical evolution of galaxies with the fossil record in the form of the present day Milky Way.

Related MSSL projects


The following are the members of the Astrophysics Group who conduct research into Galaxy Formation & Evolution:

Permanent members of staff

Mark Cropper, Daisuke Kawata, Mat Page, Ralph Schoenrich, George Seabroke, Kinwah Wu

PhD Students

Aisha Al Mannaei, Ahlam Al Qasim, James Angthopo, Jennifer Friske, Jun Lau, Choong Ling Liew-Cain, Firat Toguz, Brian Yu


Astrophysics Research:
Astrophysics Group Page

Connect with Astrophysics:
All Astrophysics News
MSSL Astrophysics Twitter
MSSL Astrophysics Blog

Head of Group:
Prof. Mark Cropper
+44 1483 204 155