Giovanni Cresci
(Arcetri Observatory)

Witnessing Galaxy Formation and Evolution at z>2 with SINFONI

While it has become clear in recent years that most of the baryonic mass in galaxies was put in place by redshift z~1, the details of how the mass was assembled -- and how this mass assembly depended on galaxy mass, type, and environment -- remain unclear. Detailed spatially-resolved studies of individual galaxies at high-z are crucial to address this issue, specifically to better understand the physics of the baryonic processes that drive galaxy formation and evolution, and to set key observational constraints for cosmological simulations. Such studies have now become possible with the adaptive-optics (AO) assisted near-IR integral field spectrometer SINFONI at the VLT, and other similar instruments at large ground-based telescopes. I will present the results of two on-going programs of near-IR imaging spectroscopy of high redshift galaxies with the integral field spectrometer SINFONI at the VLT: the SINS survey at z~1.5-3 and the LSD/AMAZE project at z~3-5. To date, we have observed ~100 high redshift sources selected in a variety of ways, probing in unprecedented detail the morphologies, dynamics, and chemical properties of z~1.5-5 galaxies using familiar rest-frame optical diagnostics, on typical spatially-resolved scales as small as 1-5 kpc. I will discuss the characteristic kinematics, morphologies and chemical properties of galaxies in our samples, their nature and evolution with redshift, and the implications of our results on the baryonic content and on the dynamical and stellar evolutionary state of the galaxies. Our observations are showing galaxy formation and evolution in unprecedented detail, opening up a new avenue of observational cosmology.