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Four members of the Faculty of the Institute of Astrophysics UC win FONDECYT Regular Projects for their Research

21 January 2023

In a recent ANID announcement, four members of the faculty of the Institute of Astrophysics of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile have been awarded large research grants for their pioneering work in their respective fields.

Dr. Manuela Zoccali, professor of astronomy, won the project entitled ‘Understanding the formation of the Galactic bulge‘ for her research on the formation of the central region of the Milky Way. Thanks to this grant, it will allow Dr. Zoccali to unlock the mysteries hidden in the innermost region of our Galaxy, where stellar and gaseous components coexist, and previous instrumentation could not peer through the thick clouds of gas and dust.

Dr. Julio Chanamé, professor of astronomy, won the FONDECYT Regular project with the title ‘Key chemical abundances across stellar populations: probes of new physics in stellar interiors and for mapping the Galaxy’ for his research on little-known processes of the structure and evolution of giant stars, and their impact on the understanding of the stellar populations of the Milky Way. This grant will allow Dr. Chanamé and his team to continue their work in the fundamental physics of stellar interiors and in galactic archaeology, work that takes advantage of the synergy between the large databases produced by modern astronomical experiments and advanced models of stellar evolution.

Dr. Felipe Barrientos, professor of astronomy, won the project entitled ‘Galaxies at the reionization epoch’ for his research on the search for and study of galaxies in the period of the life of the universe known as reionization. This grant will allow Dr. Barrientos and his team to continue their work on wide-field observations, galaxy selection, confirmation, and analysis by spectroscopy to determine which are primarily responsible processes for reionizing the universe.

Dr. Márcio Catelan, professor of astronomy, proposes an ambitious project entitled ‘Stellar and Galactic Astrophysics in the Gaia-LSST Era’ to study the three-dimensional structure of the Milky Way and its surroundings using different types of variable stars. Dr. Catelan’s team will focus on developing new data analysis tools to detect sub-structures in the Galactic halo and understand the early stages of our galaxy’s formation. In addition, the project also focuses on the infrered analysis of what lies behind the Milky Way bulge. It is also planned to explore the physical processes in variable stars and refine methods to detect exoplanetary transits.

In total, this year 15 Regular FONDECYT projects were approved in the field of astronomy and astrophysics. The Instituto de Astrofisica together with the Universidad Católica are proud of the achievements of these four faculty members and are excited to see the impact of their research in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics. These projects will allow them to continue their work and help to make important contributions to science and astronomy.

Congratulations to Drs. Zoccali, Barrientos, Chanamé and Catelan for your outstanding achievements.

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