My main research interest is in the nuclear regions of active galaxies (Active Galactic Nuclei, AGNs) which I study using very high spatial resolution techniques, such as infrared interferometry and adaptive optics, and with spectroscopy.
AGNs are thought to play a major role in transforming galaxies from gas-rich spiral galaxies to the so called ‘red and dead’ ellipticals, at least in the most luminous galaxies. There is some agreement that ‘AGN feedback’ is important in this transformation as it could push out the molecular gas out of which stars form. However, clear observational evidence for this outflow is very hard to collect, especially at high redshift where this ‘co-evolution’ mostly occurs. In ‘local’ AGNs, cosmic evolution does not play a role, but the physical processes in the nuclei can actually be resolved and studied in detail. It is my hope and my ambition that the insights we gain from resolved studies of the AGN phenomenon in the local universe will ultimately provide us with a better understanding of the global evolution of galaxies from the early universe until now.
Together with Valentin Ivanov (ESO Garching), I am currently organising the virtual workshop “Ground-based thermal infrared astronomy – past, present and future“. The workshop aims to discuss the science cases for this field as well as past, present and future instruments, observing methods and (detector) technology.
It will bring together experts in the field and can be seen as a follow-up conference to our (small-group) Lorentz Center workshop on the same topic in 2018. The ESO workshop was originally intended to be held in Garching during the last week of March. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the workshop has been postponed to 12-16 October 2020 and will be all virtual.