Witnessing the formation of galaxies:
Violence in the young universe

Astronomy of the 21st Century Distinguished Speaker Series
Orren C. Mohler Prize Lecture
Charles C. Steidel, California Institute of Technology
1800 Dow Chemistry Building, 930 N. University Ave.
Friday, January 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Telescopes allow us not only to peer out to the far reaches of space, but also to look back in time by observing the most distant objects in the Universe. Using large telescopes, we can observe directly what the universe looked like up to about 13 billion years ago, and all times in between, up to the present. We now know that there was a particularly spectacular, and sometimes violent, period when the Universe was in its youth, some 10 to12 billion years ago, where the process of galaxy formation was especially intense. Supernova explosions, bright quasars, and vigorous star formation in young galaxies during this period of time altered forever the appearance of the Universe and were responsible for shaping much of what we see in the present day.

Charles C. Steidel is the Lee A. DuBridge Professor of Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology. He specializes in the study of galaxy formation and its relationship to structure formation in the universe. His work is observational, relying on very large ground-based telescopes and space telescopes. Professor Steidel pioneered the technique of using absorption by hydrogen atoms undergoing ionization to identify galaxies at early times in the universe, soon after they start making stars. This technique has permitted him to develop powerful insights on the epoch of formation for galaxies of different masses.

He receives the 2009 Orren C. Mohler Prize from the University of Michigan Department of Astronomy for his contributions to the study of galaxy formation.

Professor Steidel received an A.B. from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the California Institute of Technology. He returned to Caltech in 1995 after a stint as a Hubble Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley, and serving on the Physics faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

During his time at Caltech, Professor Steidel has served as Executive Officer for Astronomy and received numerous awards and honors, including a 2002 MacArthur Fellowship. He also received an award given by the undergraduate student association for excellence in teaching, the Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society, and a Packard Fellowship. Professor Steidel was elected to the National Academy of Science in 2006.

Presented by the Department of Astronomy, the Exhibit Museum of Natural History, and the Student Astronomical Society, and sponsored by the Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics, the University Activities Center, and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.







© 2009 Regents of the University of Michigan
Winter 2009 Theme Semester is co-sponsored by the Department of Astronomy
and the Exhibit Museum of Natural History
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