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Current Postgraduate Research Students

David Sobral supervises 3 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Dr David Sobral FHEA FRAS

Lecturer in Astrophysics

David Sobral


Physics Building



Tel: +44 1524 593529

Office Hours:

Friday, 10-11am + e-mail and open door policy

Web: http://strw.leidenuniv.nl/~sobral/

Research overview

I conduct a wide range of observations at various wavelengths and use different telescopes (e.g. VLT, Subaru, CFHT, ALMA, INT, WHT) in order to understand how galaxies like our own Milky-Way formed and evolved from the primitive Universe till today. I also look for and study some of the most distant, early galaxies. Most of my research is done by conducting and exploring some of the largest/widest narrow-band surveys ever done, particularly for sources with emission lines. Due to the uniform and self-consistent selection, galaxies found with the narrow-band technique across cosmic time are ideal to understand how the statistical properties of galaxies change accross cosmic time, but also to conduct detailed follow-up studies that can really unveil the physics and nature of distant sources. ADS list of all my publications.

PhD supervision

- Exploring the end of the dark ages with the widest surveys: the physics of the first galaxies This project will explore state-of-the-art telescopes/instrumentation to peer back in time (to high redshift) and understand the nature and evolution of the first galaxies, stars and black holes, but also to study the Universe’s re-ionisation. Most studies still rely on narrow-field observations, resulting in sources simply too faint to be followed-up and in weak constraints on models. Another key difficulty is the interpretation of the strongest features in distant galaxies such as extremely strong, high ionisation, emission lines. The student will conduct and explore some of the largest Lyman-alpha surveys and contribute towards pushing them to the highest redshifts. This will include pioneering pilot surveys which have just been completed, and new observations already allocated to be conducted with e.g. ALMA, Keck, VLT, CFHT and WHT. The sources that will be discovered and studied will be some of the brightest galaxies into the epoch of re-ionisation, greatly contributing towards obtaining and studying the first statistical sample of extraordinary sources such as the CR7 galaxy (ESO’s top 10 all-time discoveries; http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1524/). The surveys which the student will work on target Lyman-alpha all the way from the peak of star formation to well into re-ionisation over unprecedented volumes, ~2 orders of magnitude larger than ever surveyed, yielding the exquisite samples we really need to study the evolution of stellar populations, the interstellar medium, gas and fully explore the capabilities of JWST, to be launched in 2018. While the project will be mostly observational, the student will also have the opportunity to conduct important modelling work (to fully interpret the observations) and to contribute towards providing stringent tests to state-of-the-art models of galaxy formation and evolution, of the first stars and black holes, and of re-ionisation itself.

Current Teaching

PHYS111: Functions and Differentiation

PHYS263: Astronomy

PHYS264: Astrophysics I

Research Interests

Galaxy formation and evolution; Emission-line galaxies; High-redshift galaxies; Re-ionisation of the Universe; The star formation history of the Universe

Web Links

Research Grants

NWO VENI grant (2012-2016): "From the First Galaxies to the Peak of the Star Formation History"

PhD Supervisions Completed

- Dr. Andra Stroe (2015, Leiden University, co-supervision)

- Dr. Behnam Darvish (2015, University of California Riverside, co-supervision)

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