Elsa Ducrot in front of the full-size model of the JWST mirror, manipulating the diaphragm used to reproduce the pupil of the primary mirror during the tests carried out at the CEA which made it possible to evaluate the optical qualities of the imaging mode of MIRIM before the launch. ©Jean-Charles Caslot
For the 16th edition of the Young Talent France prize, the L'Oréal Foundation has rewarded 35 brilliant young women researchers selected in France from 660 eligible nomination by a jury of excellence composed of 28 researchers from the Science Academy. At the Irfu Astrophysics Department, Elsa Ducrot received this award for physics.
In September 2017 Elsa started a thesis at the University of Liege on the search for potentially habitable planets orbiting ultra-cool stars. Elsa explains; "These stars are currently the most favorable hosts for the study of rocky planets located in the habitable zone of their star and in transit (passing in front of their star from the observer's point of view) with space telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope. The TRAPPIST-1 exoplanet system (discovered by the University of Liege the year I started my thesis!), composed of 7 rocky planets, is a perfect target .”
During her thesis, Elsa analyzed thousands of hours of observations of the TRAPPIST-1 system from the ground and from space, which allowed to deduce with precision the radii and masses of the 7 planets. She was also able to participate in the discovery of several new planets around ultra-cool stars.
After defending her thesis in August 2021, Elsa joined the CEA thanks to an international postdoctoral fellowship and joined the MIRI instrument team aboard the James Webb Space Telescope with which she will still be able to observe the planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system (starting in the fall of 2022) with the purpose to detect and characterize their atmospheres. "This step will represent a key moment in the search for life elsewhere in the Universe because no rocky planet atmospheres other than those known in our own solar system have yet been observed."
Elsa is actively preparing for these observations by developing analysis tools and testing them on both simulated data and on the first data from the James Webb Telescope (available since July 13, 2022). "The James Webb Telescope is opening up extraordinary percepts for astronomical research, the next few decades promise to be extremely rich in new discoveries. I am very lucky to be part of this adventure" continues Elsa.
Contact Irfu : Elsa DUCROT
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