Thesis Topic: The dust content of the earliest galaxies in our Universe

Thesis Supervisor: Gergö Popping


ALMA has revealed the existence of a galaxy population that host surprisingly large dust reservoirs in the early Universe. Unfortunately, carefully measuring the dust mass is still complicated, due to a lack of understanding about the dust grain properties and the temperatures of the dust. Improving our knowledge on these two topics dramatically helps to solve the ongoing puzzle of the rich dust reservoirs observed in the early Universe, and is an important puzzle piece when measuringt the amount of dust-obscured star-formation in the early Universe.

The student will extend the dust model presented in Popping et al. 2017, to better track the grain properties and PAH properties of dust in galaxies. The student will then improve the treatment of dust absorption and re-emission based on the new grain modeling, to provide direct predictions for ALMA observations. These predictions will be used to test the assumptions that observers have made and to narrow down the rate and mode in which dust forms in galaxies. The developed tools will furhter be used to interpret dust observations of galaxies at z~2, specifically focusing on the PAH fraction of low-mass galaxies.

This project is carried out within an international team of theorists and observers based in New York, Arizona, France, and Germany, and it is possible for the student to visit these collaborators. Depending on the interest of the student, the project can include an observational component.