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The physics of first star and galaxy formation

Event description

The formation of the first stars, black holes and galaxies is at the frontier of modern astrophysical research. Precision cosmology has revealed that we live in a flat Universe dominated by Dark Energy and Cold Dark Matter. Within this standard paradigm, structure formation proceeds hierarchically forming low mass objects first and subsequently building up larger galaxies all the way up to clusters of galaxies. While the growth of dark matter haloes is driven by gravity and well understood, the baryonic physics governing the formation and growth of stars, black holes and galaxies is more complex and requires the combination of different areas of physics covering such small scales as nuclei all the way up to parsec scale hydrodynamic instabilities.

Given that the cosmological initial conditions are well constrained within the standard paradigm, the formation of the first objects provides a unique opportunity to study relevant physics and to make testable predictions. Great progress has been achieved over the last years in our theoretical understanding using a combination of analytic models and numerical simulations. In particular new physics has been put to the test such as non- Gaussian initial conditions or Quintessence models. This workshop aims to bring together observers and theorists to discuss the latest developments in our understanding of the first stars, black holes and galaxies and to devise the next major steps.

Topics included are:

  • First stars:
  • Formation, evolution, nucleosynthesis and death
  • Initial mass function
  • Missing ingredients: magnetic fields, cosmic rays, radiative hydrodynamics
  • Extensions to standard model: dark matter-baryon streaming, dark matter annihilation heating

  • First Galaxies:

  • Formation, predicting their properties
  • IGM reionization and metal enrichment
  • Co-evolution of black holes/stars, seeding super-massive black holes
  • Role of turbulence
  • In-situ growth vs mergers

  • Empirical signatures

  • In-situ probes
  • Near-field cosmological probes
  • Aggregate (cosmic background) probes
  • High-z transients

  • Gamma Ray Bursts, pair-instability supernovae

Travel and accommodation

All participants are responsible for arranging their own travel to, and accommodation at, the workshop.

Accommodation on the campus includes:

  • Edinburgh First: Pollock Halls (closest, low budget), Masson House, Salisbury Green Hotel

and a number of guest houses / B&Bs:

You may also find sites such as and helpful to arrange accommodation. If you wish to stay near the campus, please enter EH16 5AY as the postcode in a search. The campus is however only a short bus ride (~20 minutes) from the city centre, so any city centre hotel would also serve you well.

For any queries please feel free to contact Nathalie Dupin (nohd [at]

Registration deadline is the 15th of March 2014 and the registration fee is 75 GBP. This wokshop is jointly funded by the Higgs Centre and the Max- Planck Society.


The physics of first star and galaxy formation


St Trinnean's Room at St Leonard's Hall


  • Volker Bromm
    • University of Texas at Austin
  • Jim Dunlop
    • University of Edinburgh
  • Anna Frebel
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Sadegh Khochfar
    • University of Edinburgh
    • Royal Observatory, Edinburgh
  • Ralf Klessen
    • Heidelberg University
  • Priyamvada Natarajan
    • Yale University
  • Raffaella Schneider
    • Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma
  • Naoki Yoshida
    • KAVLI IPMU, University of Tokyo

Key speakers

  • Paul CLARK
  • Richard ELLIS
  • Andrea FERRARA
  • Takashi HOSOKAWA
  • Heather JACOBSON
  • John NORRIS
  • Dominik RIECHERS
  • Joseph SILK (Johns Hopkins)
  • John WISE (Georgia Tech)


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