Eric Bell studies the physics of galaxy formation and evolution using large survey datasets. His areas of particular interest include the evolution of non star-forming galaxies over the last 10 billion years, the exploration of galaxy interactions and their effects on galaxies, and the use of stellar population models in analyzing the evolution of the galaxy population.
Bell provided some of the first direct observational support for the evolution of non star-forming galaxies. Such “early-type” galaxies in the local Universe are dominated by ancient stars and tend to be rounder with more random stellar orbits. These galaxies were widely thought to have been formed in the early Universe, aging passively to the present day. Theorists challenged this view, proposing that such galaxies should be formed continually through galaxy mergers and perhaps other processes. Using a combination of HST and COMBO-17 data, Bell showed that the number of these early-type, non star-forming galaxies increases with time, at a rate that approximately fits the rate of galaxy mergers.
BS, University of Glasgow/UK; PhD, University of Durham/UK; Postdoc, University of Arizona; Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy/Germany.
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