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15-09-2020 | © Heïdi Marier 5 mins read

The dancing particles

ERC grantee Konstantinos Nikolopoulos at the University of Birmingham recently won the first ERC Public Engagement with Research Award in the category of public outreach. His ExclusiveHiggs project looks at the origin of mass by exploring the interactions of the elementary matter particles with the Higgs boson. In this interview, he describes his efforts to make the public understand this field of physics through art and dance.

18-06-2020 | @ ICFO/ICREA 5 mins read

The jazz of physics

Three-time ERC grantee and four-time panel member in the ERC evaluations (the last three as panel chair), Maciej Lewenstein is not only one of the key physicists of the 21st century, but also a jazz expert. In this interview, he talks about his passion for free-improvised music and explains the intrinsic connections between quantum physics and jazz.

21-04-2020 | © Pirjo Koski 3 mins read

The night sky from your window

Cancelled flights, and less commercial and industrial activity during lockdown are reducing air and light pollution around the world, leading to spectacular views of the night sky. To mark this year’s International Dark Sky Week, we bring you the story of ERC grantee Minna Palmroth who, together with a group of Finnish amateur stargazers, has discovered a new kind of northern lights.

14-10-2019 | © Joshua Borrow using C-EAGLE 2 mins read

The cosmic threat that binds our universe

There is a web of filaments – essentially long strands of gas – that connects all the galaxies in the universe. This is known as the Cosmic Web and, so far, astrophysicist had only a partial idea of what it may have looked like. Now, ERC funded astronomer Michele Fumagalli, and his collaborators from the University of Durham and the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research in Japan, are able to show the stunning images of this common thread that runs through our stars.

11-09-2019 | © ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser 4 mins read

First water detected on potentially habitable planet

Water vapour has been detected in the atmosphere of a remote planet with habitable temperatures. Two ERC grantees at the University College London (UCL) were among the coauthors of study.

25-07-2019 | © picture 3 mins read

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?

08-03-2019 | © picture 4 mins read

The women of fundamental physics

This 8 March, the ERC celebrates the achievements of grantee Dr Mariana Graña, a determined researcher in a branch of physics where women are still noticeably underrepresented. She reflects on how far women have come in Theoretical Physics and what is still needed to overcome the gender-role stereotypes associated with this appealing but abstract field of science.

29-08-2018 | © picture 3 mins read

Jupiter was a late bloomer

With a diameter of around 143,000 kilometres and a mass 300 times that of the Earth, Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. Scientists have debated for decades how such giants formed. Now, astrophysicists of Universities of Bern and Zürich and of ETH Zürich, amongst which are ERC grantees Yann Alibert and Maria Schönbächler, proposed a solution to this puzzle. The research results, published recently in the magazine Nature Astronomy, provide crucial hints to long-standing questions about the formation of other planets in the solar system and beyond.

17-05-2018 | Image: © Image courtesy of NRAO/AUI - Portrait: © Damir Fabijanic 2 mins read

New insights into the formation of stars and black holes

Radio astronomy has now entered a “golden age” with new facilities paving the way for significant discoveries on the early universe and the formation and evolution of galaxies. Working on faint radio-signals, Dr Vernesa Smolčić’s research may lead to significant advances in the area. Her goal is to provide the first census of high-redshift star-bursting galaxies, also called “submillimetre galaxies”, and a full census of galaxies hosting supermassive black holes.  

08-05-2018 | Portrait: © Rob Stevens, KU Leuven, Belgium - Illustration Figure: © Paul Beck, KU Leuven, Belgium - Caption: Starquakes (measured with the NASA satellite Kepler) allowed to discover the spin rate of the cores of red giant stars. 4 mins read

Asteroseismology shakes up theory of stellar evolution

First published on 13-07-2016 Updated on 08-05-2018

What is the lifespan of a sun-like star? Well, it may not be quite what we thought. The outcomes of EU-funded asteroseismology research conducted by Professor Conny Aerts and her team show that the cores of red giants don’t spin nearly as fast as expected – and this, in turn, means that our understanding of the future of our sun was flawed.