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 a number of colleagues, I am currently organising the workshop “Ground-based thermal infrared astronomy – past, present and future” at ESO Garching. The workshop aims to bring together experts in the field and can be seen as a follow-up conference to our last year’s Lorentz Center workshop on the same topic.
Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the workshop has been postponed to 12-16 October 2020.
We will support remote attendance (for free!).
In June 2020 this year, I am also co-organising a series of lunch/special sessions for the EAS 2020 meeting in Leiden that are all related to using astronomy for development, education or climate action. The sessions are
Special Session 14: Astronomy for Future: Development, global citizenship & climate action – this is a special session consisting of three blocks covering astronomy for development, astronomy for global awareness and using astronomy for climate action (as well as discussing how to make astronomy itself “green”).