Dr. Nicole Vogt, at the New Mexico State University, will undertake a five-year observational and modeling program to quantify the formation and evolution of disk galaxies A sample of 150 distant spiral galaxies has been observed with the Keck Telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope, to form the basis for this program. These data will be used to integrate observational and theoretical efforts to understand galaxy evolution, as follows (1) Selection effects will be characterized by using semi-analytical models to create ensembles of model galaxies, (2) Dynamical masses will be combined with stellar masses to study the evolution of bulges, (3) The Gemini Telescopes will be used to map full-disk rotation for a subset of the distant spirals, (4) Spectra will be used to test predictions for gas temperatures and distributions throughout the halos. Taken together, these efforts will explore how to reconcile the observed galaxy populations at high redshifts with those found in the local universe.
This proposal also contains four components designed to broaden the participation in science of ethnically and geographically underrepresented groups, to engage students and teachers in dialog with career scientists, and to propagate research tools throughout the astronomical community (1) Astronomy outreach to local schools will be restructured by creating a database of research-based educational materials for public talks, working with graduate students to develop presentation styles appropriate for interacting with middle and high school students, and strengthening interactions between host teachers and visiting speakers. (2) A distance education program will be developed in undergraduate astronomy, to improve access to higher education for underrepresented ethnic and geographic groups. (3) A rigorous comparison of two software packages used in galaxy image analysis will be conducted and released to the community. (4) Graduate and undergraduate students will be involved in all aspects of research, teaching, and outreach, giving the hands-on experience in modern astronomy and astrophysics.