Johns Hopkins University
Caught in the act: charting galaxy transformation over cosmic time
One of the key problems in astrophysics is understanding how and why galaxies switch off their star formation, building the “red-sequence” that we observe in the local Universe. Post-starburst galaxies, where a galaxy has recently undergone a massive starburst, are sufficiently common at z~1-2 that they may contribute significantly to the growth of the red-sequence at this important epoch. It is not well known how much post-starburst galaxies contribute to the build-up of the red sequence at z<1, due to small number statistics in previous redshift surveys, and aperture bias at very low redshifts (e.g. in SDSS). Using wide-area photometric and spectroscopic surveys I will explore the gas, dust and stellar population properties of post-starburst galaxies to determine whether these galaxies are quenching, and determine how important they could be for accounting for the growth of the red galaxy population.