The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will revolutionize our understanding of the evolution of galaxies in the so-called "cosmic noon" era. With its unparalleled angular resolution in the near- and mid-infrared window, it will measure the distributions of stars and dust-obscured star formation on the kpc scale, and reveal the presence of active dust-obscured supermassive black holes at their centers.
In the scenario so far favored to explain the evolution of galaxies and, in particular, the morphological transformation of spirals into ellipticals, it is the mergers of galaxies that destroy the disks and generate the spheroids. However, recent observations by our team have revealed the presence of compact star-forming nuclei in distant galaxies, supporting an alternative scenario in which they were built in situ, slowly and not abruptly.
This thesis will aim to distinguish these two scenarios of galaxy formation and morphological transformation by combining JWST/PRIMER/NIRCam images with HST/CANDELS/ACS images. Our team will have access to two major JWST cosmological programs, CEERS (PI. S.Finkelstein) and PRIMER (PI. J.Dunlop) whose data should arrive as early as June 2022 (or at the latest Dec.2022). We will perform a spatially resolved analysis of the spectral energy distribution of about 1200 galaxies which will allow, in particular, to determine their distribution of stars and star formation, decisive information to understand their origin and evolution.