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Understanding galaxy formation and evolution through the study of nearby galaxies

Médéric Boquien (OAMP)

How galaxies form and evolve across the Universe is one of the greatest
outstanding questions in modern astrophysics. Yet this is a topic rife
with mystery. To get an insight into galaxy evolution, we have to understand the
fundamental process that drives the transformation of baryonic matter in
galaxies : star formation. Indeed, young, blue, massive, and very luminous
stars drastically affect the spectral energy distribution of galaxies,
heavy elements that enrich the interstellar medium and, due to feedback,
inject metals into the intergalactic medium. Understanding how the gas
reservoir of galaxies is transformed into stars is therefore pivotal to
understanding galaxy formation and evolution. Unfortunately, tracing star
formation and constraining star formation laws across the Universe remains
huge challenge. In this talk I will present first an overview of how to
star formation from the ultraviolet to the far infrared, highlighting some
the recent results obtained through the study of nearby galaxies. In the
second part I will explain how these nearby galaxies can be key tools to
constrain models of galaxy formation and evolution, and interpret some
puzzling high redshift observations.