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25-07-2019 | © picture

Lost and found in the largest structures of the universe

On a clear summer night, look up to the sky and what do you see? Ordinary matter such as planets, stars maybe even an asteroid. Millions of little specks, as far as the eyes can reach. This ordinary matter, also known as baryonic matter, is the primary observable component of our universe. But is what we see all that is out there?

11-01-2018 | Artist's impression of PicSat in orbit around the Earth. PicSat rendering © Lesia / Observatoire de Paris; Background image T. Pesquet ESA / NASA

Tiny, but not afraid of the big

If you raise your eyes to the sky, you won't see it but you might sense it passing by. On 12 January just before sunrise in Europe, PicSat, a cube satellite as big as a shoebox and barely as heavy as a brick, will be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. Supported with a grant from the European Research Council, it is the first nanosatellite to embark on one of the greatest space adventures: exploring, from afar, an exoplanet.

27-10-2015 | Image: © ESO/M. Kornmesser/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)

Hunting for extra-solar planets

Since the early 1990s almost 2000 planets have been detected outside our solar system. These discoveries led to a new area of universe sciences which is rapidly expanding. Astronomers are currently searching for extra-solar planets using a huge array of telescopes and instruments. Funded by the ERC, Prof. Cardoso Santos’ team has developed new tools to be used in both ground- and space-based facilities, to detect and study these planets.