Galaxy populations in X-ray clusters

The X-ray X-tra Large (XXL) project is a astronomical research collaboration that aims to use a large X-ray survey of galaxy clusters to answer fundamental questions in cosmology and galaxy evolution. I am a key member of the XXL project and I specialise in using multi-wavelength observations of galaxies in X-ray emitting clusters to learn about their formation and evolution. Previous student projects associated with the XXL survey have included a) creating a computer algorithm to identify galaxy clusters as spatial over-densities of characteristically red galaxies as observed in optical images in order to compare their properties to clusters identified at X-ray wavelengths, b) performing and reducing optical spectroscopy of individual galaxy clusters in order to determine their redshift, c) studying the population mix of red versus blue galaxies in clusters with a view to understanding the physical mechanism that causes the apparent transformation from a blue, star-forming galaxy to one which is red and passive. I have a range of similar projects suitable for a MITACS student including a) the analysis of near-infrared images of very distant clusters to learn about the physical structure of so-called brightest cluster galaxies and b) the comparison of cluster catalogues generated using optical observations and X-ray wavelengths with a view to understanding what makes a cluster of given mass detectable at X-ray wavelengths or not. I anticipate that the exact nature of any project to be investigated would be discussed and refined with any interested participant.

Faculty Supervisor:

Jon Willis






University of Victoria


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