GASP program receives 2.5 million euros from the European Research Council
8 May 2019
Astronomer Bianca Poggianti of the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica has been awarded a grant of 2.5 million euros by the European Research Council (ERC) for a project based on data from ESO facilities. GAs Stripping Phenomena in galaxies (GASP) is one of 222 projects across Europe to be awarded the highly competitive advanced grant, as announced by the ERC.
The ERC project GASP is based on the ESO Large Programme of the same name that studies the mechanisms of gas removal in galaxies and their consequences for star formation. GASP uses vast quantities of data, much of which was gathered with the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), as well as with ALMA and APEX. According to Poggianti, this use of data across a wide range of wavelengths is one aspect that makes GASP unique, for the first time allowing astronomers to study various phases of gas and stars up to great distances from the centres of galaxies. GASP is also distinguished by its combination of highly detailed physical analysis, the statistical power of a large sample of studied objects, and the development of innovative methods to study the evolution of the spectra of galaxies at different cosmological eras.
Established in 2015, GASP has already proven itself; its first data release in November 2017 included valuable information such as the average star formation rates in 57 galaxies in different environments, and revealed a previously unknown way to fuel supermassive black holes. The second and final GASP data release is foreseen for May 2019.
This newly awarded ERC grant will allow six young researchers to join the team, supporting the ongoing project in its pursuit of answers to questions concerning the conditions under which stars can form, the role of a galaxy’s environment in “igniting” supermassive black holes into active galactic nuclei, and the processes that bring star formation to a halt.
The ERC is the foremost European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. ERC advanced grants are awarded to well-established top researchers whose host institution is based in an EU member state or associated country. They support pioneering work by giving researchers with a track record of scientific excellence the opportunity to pursue their best ideas.
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