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Introduction

  • Corentin SchreiberEmail author
Chapter
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Part of the Springer Theses book series (Springer Theses)

Abstract

When I first met David, a couple of months before I started working on this thesis, I was surprised to see how little is presently known about how galaxies and stars are born, evolve, and then fade away. My field of expertise at that time was theoretical physics (quantum mechanics, general relativity, quantum gravity) and to me it felt natural that progress in these sub-branches of physics has always been slow. Indeed, these are pioneering theoretical works, often addressing questions that are hard, if not impossible, to connect to the observable world. Extra-galactic astrophysics, on the other hand, deals with objects that, however complex in their structure, are composed of well known elementary bricks: galaxies are made of dust, gas and stars, and each of these components is itself composed of different kinds of atoms, in different proportions and different thermodynamical states. We know how these atoms interact with each other through gravity, electromagnetism, and even quantum mechanics and general relativity, when they matter. Furthermore, these systems are easy to observe: galaxies are found everywhere in the sky, and they evolve on time scales large enough that we can in principle observe even the most distant and faint ones, should we invest enough telescope time. How comes, then, that there are still so many unanswered questions?

Keywords

Black Hole Dark Matter Star Formation Main Sequence Stellar Mass 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leiden ObservatoryLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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