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We illustrate the extraordinary potential of the (far-IR) Origins Survey Spectrometer (OSS) on board the Origins Space Telescope (OST) to address a variety of open issues on the co-evolution of galaxies and AGNs. We present predictions for blind surveys, each of 1000 h, with different mapped areas (a shallow survey covering an area of 10 deg2 and a deep survey of 1 deg2) and two different concepts of the OST/OSS: with a 5.9 m telescope (Concept 2, our reference configuration) and with a 9.1 m telescope (Concept 1, previous configuration). In 1 000 h, surveys with the reference concept will detect from ∼1.9×106 to ∼8.7×106 lines from ∼4.8×105 to 2.7×106 star-forming galaxies and from ∼1.4×104 to ∼3.8×104 lines from ∼1.3×104 to 3.5×104 AGNs. The shallow survey will detect substantially more sources than the deep one; the advantage of the latter in pushing detections to lower luminosities/higher redshifts turns out to be quite limited. The OST/OSS will reach, in the same observing time, line fluxes more than one order of magnitude fainter than the SPICA/SMI and will cover a much broader redshift range. In particular it will detect tens of thousands of galaxies at z ≥ 5, beyond the reach of that instrument. The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons lines are potentially bright enough to allow the detection of hundreds of thousands of star-forming galaxies up to z ∼ 8.5, i.e. all the way through the reionisation epoch. The proposed surveys will allow us to explore the galaxy–AGN co-evolution up to z ∼ 5.5−6 with very good statistics. OST Concept 1 does not offer significant advantages for the scientific goals presented here.
The FIR/SMM region is unique in the electromagnetic spectrum in its potential for vast increases in sensitivity and angular resolution, and, as a result, information vital to our understanding of the evolution of structure in the universe. About half of the luminosity in the universe is emitted in the far infrared. Evidence for this can be found both in the spectra of individual galaxies (Trentham et al. 1999) and in the cosmic FIR/SMM background found by COBE (Hauser et al. 1998; Fixsen et al. 1998; Dwek et al. 1998). JCMT/SCUBA observations suggest that “a large population of luminous, strongly obscured sources at redshifts ≲5 is missing from optical surveys” and could account for the background radiation (Blain et al. 1999). Future FIR/SMM measurements of these sources have the potential to reveal the luminosity history of the universe and will provide insight into the processes of galaxy and star formation and galaxy evolution.
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