The stellar key

There are three researchers who have obtained the Paduan Consolidator Grant, the funding of the European Research Council directed by researchers with excellent curriculum with several years of experience. This includes astrophysics Paola Marigo, associated INAF that has received funding of € 2 million.

3,000 galaxies


We could try to date 1995, the year in which the international astronomical community took full knowledge that ” the more you know , the less you understand .” So, in fact, was assembled by combining 342 different exposures taken with the Wide Field Camera of the Hubble Space Telescope , called the Hubble Deep Field image containing 3,000 galaxies , some of which are among the youngest and most distant known . Since then we have followed many more pictures and more detailed and dense information .

But one thing is acquiring data, and another to understand them.

Investment in technologies for observation from the ground and from space continues to be huge but we need to realize that these must match an equivalent effort to develop models of interpretation if we do not want this huge amount of data remain sterile.

” You must have a reliable interpreter who translates the light signal into the language of physics – says Paola Marigo scientific coordinator of the project – in particular , it is necessary to use theoretical models able to correctly decipher the light of the stars in terms of their physical properties , from birth until the end of evolution. ”

And this is the objective of the project STARKEY, namely to provide the astronomical community a wide range of accurate stellar models of wide application. An ambitious goal, but which, in Padua, he earned the “podium” of Astrophysics along with two other projects on current topics and burning issues such as the treatment of HIV and study of seismic sources.

The project has, in fact, received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) of € 1.93 million to be spent over five years in research contracts, scientific missions, publications and other services required to achieve the desired result. Paola Marigo is a researcher at the Department of Physics and Astronomy G. Galilei , University of Padova but to “run the Star Key” will also benefit from the collaboration of experts ultra -skilled , both foreign (Australia, United States , Sweden, Austria ) that Italians in particular Leo Girardi INAF Padova and Alessandro Bressan SISSA -Trieste . The research team will also include four new researchers, who will be identified through a public selection on an international scale, and some graduate students.

This research will use an innovative approach because it will investigate a particular stage of evolution of the stars ( or thermal pulse phase of the TP -AGB ), we asked the reason for this to Leo Girardi : ” It has been decided not only because it this is a very interesting phase of evolution – which takes a bit of everything, from the production of new chemical elements to the strong mass loss, or even the formation of dust around the star – but mainly because it is a developmental stage still very uncertain and this uncertainty impacting heavily on the interpretation of the light emitted from galaxies . From the models of these stars depend, for example, the estimations of the mass and star formation in distant galaxies. It’s important to have models that are robust, based on the knowledge of the nearest stars, to be able to interpret the observations of distant objects that the current technology allows. “

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