The resolved lifecycle of metals and dust in nearby galaxies

01 January 2021 → 31 December 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Astrochemistry
    • Cosmology and extragalactic astronomy
    • Infrared and optical astronomy
    • Radio and sub-mm astronomy
chemical evolution
Project description

Interstellar dust makes up only 1% of the interstellar mass, but dust grains play a vital role in the formation of molecular hydrogen and in the cooling of molecular clouds enabling these clouds to gravitationally collapse and form new stars. To model and infer the influence of dust on the efficiency of star formation, we need to understand how dust forms and evolves in galaxies. With this FWO project, we will develop resolved Dust and Element evolUtion modelS (DEUS) that will be used to interpret the resolved lifecycle of metals and dust in three Local Group galaxies. With these galaxies spanning a factor of 5 in metallicity range, we will probe different regimes in the dust lifecycle and diagnose the dominant sources of dust production at different metallicities. We will use the superb resolution and plethora of observational constraints to break existing model degeneracies and improve on poorly constrained model parameters resulting from global galaxy studies. My combined expertise in observational studies and modelling of dust in galaxies and supernovae will provide the necessary foundation for this pioneering study of the origin of interstellar dust in the Universe. To increase the visibility of the project, we will provide a complete dust formation and destruction model, and sets of numerical recipes applicable to a wide range of cosmological simulations, which will be indispensable to study the effect of dust on star formation and galaxy evolution.