Chronos: A NIR spectroscopic galaxy survey to probe the most fundamental stages of galaxy evolution

Ferreras, I.; Cropper, M.; Sharples, R.; Bland-Hawthorn, J.; Bruzual, G.; Charlot, S.; Conselice, C. J.; Driver, S.; Dunlop, J.; Hopkins, A. M.; Kaviraj, S.; Kitching, T.; Barbera, F. La; Lahav, O.; Pasquali, A.; Serjeant, S.; Silk, J.; Windhorst, R.
Bibliographical reference

Experimental Astronomy

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We propose a dedicated, ultra-deep spectroscopic survey in the near infrared (NIR), that will target a mass-limited sample of galaxies during two of the most fundamental epochs of cosmic evolution: the formation of the first galaxies (at z ≳ 6; cosmic dawn), and at the peak of galaxy formation activity (at redshift z∼1-3; cosmic noon). By way of NIR observations (λ= 0.8-2μ m), it is possible to study the UV Lyman-α region in the former, and the optical rest-frame in the latter, allowing us to extract fundamental observables such as gas and stellar kinematics, chemical abundances, and ages, providing a unique legacy database covering these two crucial stages of cosmic evolution. The need to work in the NIR at extremely low flux levels makes a ground-based approach unfeasible due to atmospheric emission and absorption. Only with the largest facilities of the future (e.g. ELT) will be possible to observe a reduced set of targets, comprising at most of order thousands of galaxies. Likewise, from space, the small field of view of JWST and its use as a general purpose facility will yield a rather small set of high quality NIR spectra of distant galaxies (in the thousands, at best). Our project (codename Chronos) aims to produce ∼1 million high quality spectra, with a high S/N in the continuum, where information about the underlying stellar populations is encoded. The main science drivers are: The connection between the star formation history and the mass assembly history.
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Group members
Traces of Galaxy Formation: Stellar populations, Dynamics and Morphology

We are a large, diverse, and very active research group aiming to provide a comprehensive picture for the formation of galaxies in the Universe. Rooted in detailed stellar population analysis, we are constantly exploring and developing new tools and ideas to understand how galaxies came to be what we now observe.

Martín Navarro