Deep Infra Red Studies and the Distant Universe:
June 2 – 7, 2003
This workshop brought together participants from over the world to discuss a large number of aspects concerning the "FIRES" project. This project (with the full name "Faint Infared Extragalactic Survey") aims to determine the rest-frame optical properties of galaxies in the early universe. It is based on very deep Near-Infrared imaging of 2 fields taken with the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. Many of the participants were directly involved in the projects, other had complementary expertise which contributed greatly to the success. The aim of the workshop was to discuss the latest results of the FIRES team, and to present and analyse the general scientific context of this research area.
The format of the meeting consisted of 2-hour sessions of talks and presentations, interspersed with general discussion sessions, group discussions, and normal "work" sessions. The workshop lasted throughout the week. We opened with an "Outstanding questions" sessions, and closed with a "Discussion and TODO" session.
Especially when large international collaborations are involved, it is critical to bring together the participants in order to make the collaboration work and be fruitful. The unique capabilities of the Lorentz Center are ideally suited for this kind of meeting. The lecture rooms have the right size for informal and stimulating discussions, and the offices for the participants allow them to do more refined analyses on their results during the workshop. Hence many ideas were generated during this workshop which could be followed up immediately and discussed in later sessions.
The good computer facilities and fast network links are critical for this aspect, as literature can be accessed quickly, and participants can work on their home computers from the Lorentz Center.
The support of the staff was excellent. All hotel reservations, directions, practical matters of work in the Lorentz Center were arranged and explained very well. As a result the participants could focus on the science and were not distracted.
The Lorentz Center provides an almost unique facility to bring together astronomers from a world collaboration such as ours.
M. Franx (Leiden University, The Netherlands)