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Published 1998 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

The Formation of Disk Galaxies at z > 3


While the baryonic content of spiral galaxies that are observed in the present epoch is concentrated in stars, in the past this must have been in the form of gas. Studies of the early formation of disk galaxies has historically concentrated on detecting the neutral hydrogen expected in a young protogalaxy as an absorption imprint on a more distant quasar spectrum. These high column density neutral hydrogen absorbers are identified as damped Lyα absorption systems. They have now been identified back to epochs when the Universe is ~10% of its present age. While kinematic evidence suggests they might be massive disk galaxies, chemical evidence points to halo gas in galaxies of varying morphology as being responsible for the damped absorbers. Recent technological advancements including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Telescopes have allowed great strides to be made in studies of the distant universe. I discuss studies of the high redshift universe in general and review recent results on studies of damped absorbers at high redshifts. Are the damped Lyα absorbers massive rotating disks? Are they spheroids? Are they a mixed population of young galaxies? These issues are explored in this proceeding.

Additional Information

© 1998 Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Provided by the NASA Astrophysics Data System. I would like to thank my collaborators Art Wolfe, Richard McMahon, Mike Irwin, and Isobel Hook. Thanks also to Andy Fruchter and George Djorgovski for providing me with data prior to publication.

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