The 2021 MERAC Prize for the Best Early Career Researcher in Theoretical Astrophysics is awarded to Dr Antoine Strugarek (CEA Saclay, France) for ground- breaking contributions in stellar astrophysics, including dynamo theory, predictions of solar flares and pioneering work on star-exoplanet interactions. The prize from the MERAC foundation (Mobilization for European Research in Astrophysics and Cosmology) is awarded each year by the European Society of Astronomy (ESA).
The high luminosity phase of the LHC (HL-LHC) should enable the collection of a dataset unprecedented in the history of particle physics. In order to record these data, the Atlas detector will undergo a major upgrade. IRFU, via the Paris-Cluster in synergy with two other laboratories in Ile de France, is committed to the construction of a part of the internal tracker. The year 2021 is brilliantly starting for the Paris-Cluster, which has just passed an important milestone in this endeavour: the first phase of the assembly and testing processes developed by our teams has been validated by the Atlas collaboration.
Nearly 200 researchers were involved in collecting, processing and assembling images of half the sky to prepare for the start of observations by DESI, the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, which aims to solve the mystery of dark energy.
In order for DESI to begin its 5-year mission (2021-2026) to produce the largest 3D sky map ever made, researchers first needed a gigantic 2D map of the Universe. Based on 200,000 images from 1405 nights of observations on three telescopes and several years of satellite data, this 2D map is the largest ever produced, based on the area of sky covered, the depth of the imagery and the more than one billion images of galaxies it contains.
Imaging planets that could potentially sustain life around nearby stars has become a possibility thanks to advances reported by an international team of astronomers in the journal Nature Communications. Using a newly developed system for mid-infrared exoplanet imaging in combination with a very long observation time, they achieved the capability of directly imaging planets about three times the size of Earth within the habitable zones of nearby stars. This experiment, called NEAR (Near Earths in the AlphaCen Region), was performed using VISIR, a mid-infrared instrument built by the Astrophysical Department of CEA-IRFU. The VISIR camera has been adapted to a 8m large telescope VLT UT4 (Yepun) in Chile, with a specific star-light blocking device and a a built-in adaptive optics sytems to correct for the atmospheric turbulence. A potential Neptune-to Saturn-sized planet orbiting Alpha Centauri may have been pinpointed but still requires further confirmation.
See the video : Breakthrough Watch/NEAR