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In 2016, a team of researchers led by EU-funded astronomer Michaël Gillon at the University of Liège, Belgium, discovered three temperate Earth-sized planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-cool dwarf star just 40 light years from Earth. A few months later, Gillon surprised the world with the discovery of a whole planetary system made of a total of seven planets around this star. A set of new studies reveals today the nature and composition of the planets, shedding light on their potential habitability.
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.
A team of female scientists, including ERC grantee Dr Raffaella Schneider from Sapienza University in Italy found how black holes appeared and grew in the early universe. The lead author of the study was Edwige Pezzulli, a PhD student member of Dr Schneider's ERC-funded team.
Supermassive black holes with masses of about a billion times that of the sun existed by about 12.8 billion years ago.
Michaël Gillon, astronomer and ERC grantee from the University of Liege, stunned the world with his recent discovery of seven potentially inhabitable planets orbiting Trappist-1 star, some 40 light years from Earth.
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.
A team of researchers, led by ERC grantee Michaël Gillon, has discovered three potentially habitable planets that orbit an ultra-cool dwarf star, no further away than 40 light years from Earth.
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 “submillimeter galaxies”, and a full census of galaxies hosting supermassive black holes.
As empirical experiments are almost impossible in astronomy, research in this field relies heavily on observation. Prof. Andrzej Udalski set new frontiers in observational astronomy, in particular in the search for extra-solar planets, using a cutting-edge gravitational microlensing technique which enables the study of celestial objects irrespective of the light they emit.
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.
What is the nature of dark energy? How does it relate to dark matter? These are some of the key open questions in cosmology, which Prof. Luigi Guzzo intends to address in his research. Findings of his DARKLIGHT project, funded by the ERC, could add an important piece to the puzzle of the origin and evolution of the Universe.