Based on the current cold dark matter cosmological framework, it is now well-established that galaxy interactions are ubiquitous and that they play a pivotal role in the formation and evolution of galaxies. From both a theoretical and observational perspective, galaxy interactions are undoubtedly responsible for a number of important phenomena that are fundamentally connected to the formation and evolution of galaxies, such as the triggering of starbursts, the fueling of quasars, the assembly of the most massive black holes, and the formation of galaxy bulges. The massive stars and accreting black hole triggered in these events in turn exercise a profound effect over the baryonic component of the universe by driving massive energetic outflows that re-distribute the dust and metals into the intergalactic medium. These effects will influence the onset, rate, efficiency, spatial extent, and possibly the initial mass function (IMF) of subsequent star formation and can halt accretion onto the central supermassive black holes.
Our group has several ongoing projects aimed at studying the incidence and properties of accreting supermassive black holes , the gas content and properties of the interstellar medium, the properties of star formation and the role of gaseous inflows and outflows in interacting galaxies. These studies will enable a more comprehensive understanding of merger evolution from the first close pass through to final coalescence.