ON THE FORMATION OF MASSIVE GALAXIES
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Looking backwards we have been able to reconstruct from the detailed structure of our own Galaxy and from the fossil evidence derived from the study of nearby galaxies a plausible history of how galaxies formed over the last several billion years. In addition, now that we have a quite definite cosmological model, providing us with a quantitative picture of how perturbations grew from very low amplitude Gaussian fluctuations, we can perform the forward modeling of representative pieces of the universe using standard physical processes to see how well we match our local knowledge and the time-reversed modeling based on the fossil evidence. Finally, we can employ large ground and space based telescopes to use the universe as a time-machine – directly observing the past history of our light-cone. While none of these approaches can give us at the present time results accurate to more than roughly the 5% -> 10% level, a coherent and plausible picture is emerging.