Red spirals - how star formation fades in galaxies like the Milky Way

Most galaxies fall into one of two categories, star-forming such as the Milky Way spiral, or red & dead such as most regular non-spiral galaxies. However, non-spiral galaxies must have formed their stars at some point in the past, and they may have been spirals at the time; debate still rages about why and how galaxies turn from one kind into another. A key ingredient in this transformation are red spirals, a hitherto little-studied type of spiral galaxies where star formation is fading or may have stopped altogether.                                                          

This project will study red spirals in detail, and aim to understand what levels of star formation persist and for how long. We will use optical and infrared data to measure current rates of star formation and find out what we have been missing due to dust extinction. We aim to describe an evolutionary path for red spirals, explain their past and predict the their fate. We will look at their inner properties as well as their environment to assess what drives their transformation. Finally, we want to determine whether they are sufficient to explain all transformation required to make up the two common classes of galaxies.

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