High-redshift star formation in the Atacama large millimetre/submillimetre array era

J. A. Hodge, E. da Cunha

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

120 Citations (Scopus)


The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) is currently in the process of transforming our view of star-forming galaxies in the distant (z greater than or similar to 1) universe. Before ALMA, most of what we knew about dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxies was limited to the brightest submillimetre sources-the so-called submillimetre galaxies (SMGs)-and even the information on those sources was sparse, with resolved (i.e. sub-galactic) observations of the obscured star formation and gas reservoirs typically restricted to the most extreme and/or strongly lensed sources. Starting with the beginning of early science operations in 2011, the last 9 years of ALMA observations have ushered in a new era for studies of high-redshift star formation. With its long baselines, ALMA has allowed observations of distant dust-obscured star formation with angular resolutions comparable to-or even far surpassing-the best current optical telescopes. With its bandwidth and frequency coverage, it has provided an unprecedented look at the associated molecular and atomic gas in these distant galaxies through targeted follow-up and serendipitous detections/blind line scans. Finally, with its leap in sensitivity compared to previous (sub-)millimetre arrays, it has enabled the detection of these powerful dust/gas tracers much further down the luminosity function through both statistical studies of colour/mass-selected galaxy populations and dedicated deep fields. We review the main advances ALMA has helped bring about in our understanding of the dust and gas properties of high-redshift (z greater than or similar to 1) star-forming galaxies during these first 9 years of its science operations, and we highlight the interesting questions that may be answered by ALMA in the years to come.

Original languageEnglish
Article number200556
Number of pages75
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


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