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Sanchayeeta Borthakur Colloquium Abstract (Jan 24, 2018)

Understanding How Galaxies Reionized the Universe

Identifying the population of galaxies that was responsible for the reionization of the universe is a long-standing quest in astronomy. While young stars can produce large amounts of ionizing photons, however the mechanism behind the escape of Lyman continuum photons (wavelength < 912 A) from star forming regions has eluded us. To identify such galaxies and to understand the process of escape of Lyman continuum, we present an indirect technique known as the residual flux technique. Using this technique, we identified (and later confirmed) the first low-redshift galaxy that has an escape fraction of ionizing flux of 21%. This leaky galaxy provides us with valuable insights on the physics of starburst-driven feedback. In addition, since direct detection of ionizing flux is impossible at the epoch of reionization, the residual flux technique presents a highly valuable tool for future studies to be conducted with the upcoming large telescopes such as the GMT and the JWST to probe the first galaxies!