Currently, the Astrophysics Group consists of 4 permanent professors (A. I. Díaz, R. Domínguez-Tenreiro, C. Eiroa, and G. Yepes), 6 Ramón y Cajal researchers, and about 20 postdoctoral researchers and Ph.D. students. Other members of the Department of Theoretical Physics and the IFT (e.g. Prof. J. García-Bellido, D. García-Cerdeño, B. Gavela, and C. Muñoz, among others) often carry out activities and expeditions towards cosmology and astroparticle physics, and several scientists from other institutions collaborate with the Group on a regular basis.
Star formation and exoplanets
Star formation, planetary systems and planet are all links in the same
chain: the gravititory collapse of a fragment of a molecular cloud,
which leads to star formation and then to circumstellar disks where the
planets will be formed. There are several running projects regarding
this evolutive chain: i) Protostars and young star objects; ii)
Evolution of protoplanetary disks into planetary disks; iii) Kuiper
belts and exozodiacal light in mature stars of the solar vicinity; iv)
Detection and characterization of earth-like planets in near stars.
This departmental research takes place in the framework of large international consortia (i.e. DUNES and GASPS related to the space telescope Herschel or ARENA).
It has been understood that the chemical evolution of the different
systems in the Universe provide key elements to identify the processes
leading to galaxy formation. The subgroup of extragalactic astrophysics
studies these processes, both from a theoretical -modelling- point of
view and through observations, devising methodologies for the
determination of chemical abundances in the interstellar gas and in star
The team also studies the “activity” (high-energy radiation emission) in galaxy nuclei and its connection with violent star formation. This group is leader in the study of star formation in that type of environments.
This subgroup develops simulations of visible structures in the Universe at
different astronomical scales: from the largest – of order of billion
light-years -, to the smallest, e.g. galaxies such as the Milky Way. The
gravitational effects of the dark matter and dark energy components are
taken into account and explored, as well as gas-dynamic effects. These
simulations are a virtual laboratory which serves to test and verify
theories and astrophysical and cosmological models; it is also a tool
to design future observational and instrumental strategies.
The team participates in large international collaborations on Universe simulations (i.e. DEISA consortium, http://www.deisa.org), and some of them, as Mare Nostrum Universe, are still the biggest simulations in the world that simultaneously include gas and dark matter.
Astroparticle Physics and Cosmology
This line deals with the origin and composition of the Universe and spans research in astroparticle physics and cosmology. Both fields are undergoing a tantalizing transformation as a consequence of the many running experiments which provide precise results about the universe at its largest scales. Data of deep impact is expected to be available very soon, such as that from the PLANCK satellite or from dark matter experiments e.g. XENON. The collaboration and coordination in this field between IFT members (with PE10-13 rating in this area of 5/5 inside CSIC y 4/5 at an international level) and the extremely active and consolidated astrophysics group of the Department is very positive.
Grupo de Astrofísica - Universidad Autónoma de Madrid © 2011
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