Cosmic chemical evolution and the evolution of galaxies

Longair, Malcolm S.
June 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 516 Issue 1, p3
Academic Journal
The evolutionary history of star and element formation rates with cosmic epoch is reviewed. The problem of taking proper account of the effects of dust obscuration in optical and ultraviolet observations is emphasised. Recent submillimetre surveys have been used to derive the star formation rate as a function of cosmic epoch independent of dust obscuration. These observations suggest that the star formation rate peaked at redshifts z∼2–4, similar to the maximum in the evolution of the populations of active galaxies. We describe a general two-parameter family of functions that describe the evolution of the efficiency of star formation in merging galaxies as a function of cosmic epoch. The functions are analytic in the Einstein-de Sitter model. The simple functions we obtained provide excellent fits to observations of the evolution of both optically selected and dust-enshrouded galaxies, and are consistent with observations of the evolution of the abundance of both gas and metals at all epochs. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


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