Prof. Steven Finkelstein

Searching for First Light

My group seeks to understand when and how galaxies first formed out of the cosmic dark ages. How long after the Big Bang did it take for the first stars to ignite? What were the properties of the first galaxies, and how do they differ from our Milky Way? How were the earliest black holes seeded and how did they grow? How did galaxies and accretting black holes contribute to the reionization of the intergalactic medium?

We focus on answering these questions through observations with state-of-the-art telescopes, including the largest telescopes on the ground and JWST and Hubble in space. We aim to acheive a physical understanding by interpreting our data through vibrant collaborations with theoretical astrophysicists from many groups around the world.

We collaborate within the Cosmic Frontier Center, designed to combine the observational and theoretical expertise in early galaxy formation at UT Austin to make breakthrough discoveries. My research group includes several postdocs and graduate students, each working on different pieces of the puzzle, often working together to acheive their goals. Recently our key effort has been the JWST CEERS project. Finally, student learniing is a passion of mine, and I share some of my developed resources.