Today I just received news that the NASA Keck proposal that a PhD student (Leindert Boogaard) and I collaborated on with Dominik Riechers was successful, and we will therefore be able to use 0.5 nights of time on the Keck telescope to observe sources over the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF). This is exciting since it means that the PhD student I (together with Paul van der Werf) have in Leiden will have the opportunity to make use of the amazing capabilities of the MOSFIRE instrument to observe massive star-forming galaxies in the HUDF to determine both their redshifts and other physical properties.
As NASA Keck time is available to the entire scientific community in the United States, the time is extremely competitive, and will only be awarded to the best scientific projects. Fortunately, Leindert and I were able to collaborate with Dominik Riechers to put together an extremely compelling proposal. Our proposal leveraged an incredible allocation of 150 hours of ALMA time given to the ASPECS project (PIs: Fabian Walter, Manuel Aravena, and Chris Carilli), the first extragalactic large program approved for ALMA. The major aim of that program was to conduct a blind search for molecular gas in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field by looking for CO rotational lines in ALMA bands 3 and 6, in addition to probing far-IR emission from dust in distant galaxies.
The goal of our proposal was to detect the [OIII] and Halpha emission lines from z~2-4 galaxies with MOSFIRE to obtain a precise determination of the systemic redshifts of the targeted galaxies. With precise systemic redshift measurements, it becomes possible to look for very low S/N CO line emission from lower mass z~2-4 galaxies in the ALMA data and also to perform stacking studies. At the same time, the line measurements allow us to probe other physical properties of distant galaxies, e.g., such as metallicities, star formation rates, velocity offsets, etc. The new data should therefore be of use for Leindert in writing one or more scientific manuscripts and will add to the science that will be done with 10 hours of KMOS data we are obtaining on an overlapping samples of sources.
All in all, the success of this proposal is welcome news and just adds to the huge amount of success Leindert Boogaard has already enjoyed as a PhD student in Leiden. Not only does Leindert already have an accepted Astronomy & Astrophysics manuscript on the galaxy star forming main sequence in lower-mass galaxies to z~1, but also Leindert was able to almost single-handedly write a successful ALMA proposal in his first year as a PhD student.
In just his first 2 years as a PhD student, Leindert now knows how to reduce and pursue science with MUSE, KMOS, HST grism, and ALMA data. In addition, Leindert is now writing several of the central scientific manuscripts for the ASPECS project, working closely with Fabian Walter, Roberto Decarli, Manuel Aravena, and Jorge Gonzalez, and is increasingly internationally known. Like my first student in Leiden Renske Smit, Leindert is showing remarkable early potential to be a scientist at the highest levels, and it has truly been a pleasure to collaborate with Paul van der Werf on his supervision. It is because of students like Leindert that being a professor (and other challenges) are truly worthwhile.