The High-z Galaxy Population Probed by GRBs as a Cosmological Tool
Dr Daniel Perley
Long-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most luminous explosions in the Universe by far, making them easily detectable to very high redshifts. Because they are produced by short-lived massive stars, they also randomly sample the locations in the universe where stars are forming. As a result, we can use the demographics of the galaxies in which we find GRBs to study the demographics of high-redshift galaxies generally. Compared to more traditional sorts of galaxy surveys, GRBs offer many advantages: we can use spectra of the GRB afterglows to constrain their metal abundances and chemical properties, and GRBs sample every type of galaxy that contributes to cosmic star-formation, no matter how faint or how distant.
Over the past five years we have been accumulating a huge data store of photometric and spectroscopic observations of GRB host galaxies at cosmological distances. In this project, the student would make use of this archive to study in detail the GRB view of the distant universe, and help place new constraints on the buildup of galaxies and metals over time and the mechanism by which GRBs explode.