Susanne Aalto and Jonathan Tan

Consolidates Chalmers place in the astronomy world's elite

For the first time, two researchers at the same division and department at Chalmers has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant, each of 2.5 million euros. Susanne Aalto and Jonathan Tan, professors at Astronomy and Plasma Physics, have been awarded funding from the European Research Council ERC for two five-year research projects that deal with super massive black holes and massive stars, respectively.
"The ERC grants give us the resources that make it possible to work on large scale research questions. This means that Chalmers can consolidate its place in the world’s elite in mm, submm and radio astronomy", says Susanne Aalto, professor and Head of the division Astronomy and Plasma Physics in the Department of Space, Earth and Environment. 

​Exploring the hidden nuclei of galaxies
Susanne Aalto, professor in radio astronomy och head of the division Astronomy and Plasma Physics, is one of two astronomers at Chalmers University of Technology who received an ERC Advanced Grant. She is also the first woman at Chalmers with an ERC Advanced Grant. In the HIDDeN project, her research team will explore how supermassive black holes - like the one in the middle of the Milky Way - grow together with their host galaxies.
"If you want to understand how the universe develops, you must understand the development of galaxies. We have discovered extremely dust-embedded galaxy nuclei that are invisible, both in normal light and in infrared radiation. We believe that they hide a thus-far unknown, compact and very transient phase of growth," says Susanne Aalto.

A star is born – but how?
Jonathan Tan, professor in Astrophysics, also received an ERC Advanced Grant. Massive Star Formation Through the Universe, his research group will focus on massive star formation - in current times, as well as in the very early times after the Big Bang. He hopes to be able to use their results to better understand the complete life cycle of stars, star clusters and the interstellar medium in galaxies. 
"Without massive stars, life as we know it would not be possible, since many important chemical elements are created in massive stars and released into the universe when they ultimately explode in supernovae. We hope to answer some of the numerous open questions about the birth of massive stars in this project," says Jonathan Tan.

Published: Fri 20 Apr 2018.