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Innovative astronomical research project brings together experts from USM and UV

Experimental physics researchers from the Centro Científico Tecnológico de Valparaíso (CCTVal) of the Universidad Santa María (USM) and astronomy experts from the Universidad de Valparaíso (UV) will carry out a Núcleo Milenio Fund project that seeks to promote the development of extrasolar planet research using technology made in Chile.

Experimental physics researchers from the Centro Científico Tecnológico de Valparaíso (CCTVal) of the Universidad Santa María (USM) and astronomy experts from the Universidad de Valparaíso (UV) will carry out a Núcleo Milenio Fund project that seeks to promote the development of extrasolar planet research using technology made in Chile.

 

The proposal, winner of a Núcleo Milenio Fund, will have the participation a group of CCTVal Experimental Physics experts, conformed by the Doctors Hayk Hakobyan, William Brooks, Christian Romero and Claudio Dib, who will work in collaboration with members of the Physics and Astronomy Institute group of the UV, made up of Dr. Amelia Bayo, Director; Dr. Matthias  Schreiber, Deputy Director, and Dr. Johan Olofsson, leader of the Max Planck Astronomy Tandem Group.

With the aim of making progress on the topic of astronomical exploration, specifically the research related to the phenomenon of the formation of extrasolar planets, the initiative named “Núcleo Milenio de Formación de Planetas” proposes the elaboration of a new generation of telescopes using astronomical mirrors made out of carbon fiber. According to the USM academic and CCTVal researcher, Hayk Hakobyan, “Núcleo Milenio’s goal is to move forwards on the construction of optical resolution mirrors that can be used in specific astronomical observation projects”.

The USM group will be in charge of creating a carbon fiber mirror capable of observing celestial bodies. According to the expert, “the initial purpose of these mirrors is to use them in a project dedicated to the direct observation of planets outside the Solar system. For this, we will use a technique currently being implemented in another CCTVal project called Mirror”.

The aforementioned project, led by Dr. William Brooks, consists in the manufacturing of carbon fiber mirrors for the particle detector CLAS12 located at the renowned Thomas Jefferson Laboratory in the US. Since carbon fiber can be used to build detector mirrors, the researchers have opted to implement it in this new challenge.

As emphasized by the CCTVal experts, the development of this technique will be a major contribution to the Chilean society due to the versatility of the fiber, which can be applied in the manufacturing of a broad range of everyday products. The researcher, Hayk Hakobyan, mentions, “The project will significantly contribute to the technical and engineering development of the country because the fiber can be used in a great variety of products. Additionally, the technique is still little known in Chile, particularly its use for scientific purposes”.

A development for Society

Regarding this partnership, Dr. Brooks notes the initiative to deliver Competitive Funding to motivate scientists to work with other professionals and points out “I think collaboration is not a very common thing here (in Chile), and that´s why efforts are being made to encourage researchers through the release of funds. Having two universities contributing with their work and ideas is a big step forward”.

Additionally, the scientists emphasize the importance of generating knowledge and innovation - the foundation for technological advances -, even though in many occasions this is not common knowledge, as explained by Dr. Hakobyan “what happens is that people are not conscious of their knowledge, for example, they use cellphones but are unaware that these are science-based devices. Any contribution to the subject of knowledge is socially relevant because by creating spaces which support research - which is not easy -, you change people’s mentality, you generate a critical and thinking mass”.

Based on the above, the researcher Christian Romero, also a member of the USM campus, highlights the scientific labor and declares, “We can give this approach a new direction and develop applied research to strengthen the scientific and business capabilities of our country”.

Finally, the USM group stresses the project´s contribution to the prestige of the country, since mastering the technology they expect to improve will be beneficial for science and it will encourage other institutions to propose new projects. “If we are capable of manufacturing these mirrors in Chile, it will be an achievement that not many countries can boast of. If we succeed or not, this will be a major contribution”, says Dr. William Brooks. 

NUCLEO MILENIO

Escrito por Super User 13 · Jul · 2017

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