Between August 17-21 around 40 astronomers from all over the world
will come to the AlbaNova University Center in Stockholm. There they will attend a conference on the reionization of the universe, an important phase in the early universe, roughly 12 billion years ago. Radiation from stars and quasars in the earliest generations of galaxies turned the matter between the galaxies from neutral to ionized, and it has remained ionized ever since.

We do not actually know very much about the process, when and how it exactly happened, and the properties of the galaxies responsible for it, but in the coming decade we hope to learn much more through a range of observations: radio observations of the neutral hydrogen between the galaxies (one of the main science goals of the European LOFAR telescope, in which Sweden is a partner), observations of the cosmic microwave background (with the European Planck satelite) and infrared studies of the earliest galaxies themselves (ultimately with the James Webb Space Telescope). All these observations are very challenging because of the faintness of these distant signals.

In the conference at AlbaNova the participating researchers will discuss how to best make use of and combine these different observations to reach a better understanding of the reionization and the first generations of stars and galaxies, or in other words how everything we see around us in the universe today, started.

At the Department of Astronomy, professors Garrelt Mellema and Göran Östlin work on reionization through advanced computer simulations and observational studies of galaxies, respectively. Their research is part of the Oskar Klein Centre, which also is one of the sponsors of the conference. The other sponsors are NORDITA, the Swedish Research Council and NordForsk.

Conference website Contact:

Garrelt Mellema, Tel: 08-5537 8552, garrelt@astro.su.se