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2019 Spring Science Colloquium

What’s Happening in the Smallest of Star-forming Galaxies?

Presented by: Kristen McQuinn (Rutgers University)
Category: Science Colloquia   Duration: 1 hour   Broadcast date: February 27, 2019
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Abstract: Small galaxies are key tools for understanding structure formation and galaxy evolution. Traditionally defined as galaxies below a mass threshold of ~10^9 Msun, they have long been used to study the individual components of galaxies (stars, gas, chemical elements) and as archeological records of the conditions in the early Universe. Now we are finding gas-rich, star-forming galaxies in the 10^5-10^7 Msun mass regime. Due to their low-masses, these systems act as boundary conditions for baryon physics in cosmological simulations and may provide the most stringest tests for dark matter physics. The physical properties of these extremely low-mass systems lie below below many thresholds from theoretical predictions and allow us to explore numerous questions about galaxy formation, survival, and evolution. In this talk, I will show how we are moving to the next frontier in low-mass galaxy research with the discovery and characterization of systems hovering at the brink of what we call a galaxy.