Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades Gobierno de Canarias Universidad de La Laguna CSIC Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa

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The European Research Council awards one of its prestigious "ERC Consolidator Grants" to IAC researcher Elena Khomenko

Dec. 14, 2017

The IAC researcher Elena Khomenko has managed to win an European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant, whose purpose is to support projects of world-wide scientific excellence, which will allow her to carry out pioneering research for 5 years on the magnetic activity of the most puzzling region of the solar atmosphere, the chromosphere. This is the second time that the European Research Council has awarded an ERC grant to this astrophysicist, who had previously been given an ERC Starting Grant in 2011.

The scientific research carried out at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) have again achieved the recognition of the European Research Council (ERC).This organization has just made an ERC Consolidator Grant, in a programme to fund the development of excellent and highly innovative projects, to the IAC scientist Elena Khomenko. The project, titled “Partial Ionisation: Two-fluid Approach” (PI2FA), is aimed at the development of new methods for investigating the magnetism in the outer layers of the solar atmosphere, the chromosphere. This line of research uses a new methodology developed in the ERC Starting Grant project. The objective is understand the process that do the chromosphere has a so high temperatures. The results may open a new window of astrophysical research with important implications for our understanding of the Sun and its magnetic activity.

PI2FA will start in 2018 and will have a duration of 5 years. From the IAC, Elena Khomenko will coordinate a research team which will have the full support of the Office for the Publication of Research Results (OTRI) and of the Research Division.

Elena Khomenko obtained her doctorate in Physics at the Ukrainian Main Observatory and is now a permanent staff scientist at the IAC. She has a wide experience in solar physics, magnetohydrodynamic theory, and numerical simulation. In her work she combines numerical research with spectropolarimetric observations; in the last ten years, she has led research into the interaction of solar waves with the magnetic field, together with studies of the quiet Sun's magnetized plasma away from active regions. In her former ERC-funded project, Khomenko and her team developed a pioneering methodology and cutting-edge numerical code to study weakly ionized solar plasma. These and other highlights have served to make Khomenko one of the few scientists in Spain to obtain an ERC Consolidator Grant in the field of 'Sciences of the Universe'.

Winning this Consolidator Grant is a new success for the Solar Physics group at the IAC, which is also the driving force behind the project to build the “European Solar Telescope” (EST), one of the European strategic scientific installations, which should be built at the Canary Island Observatories.

ERC Grants

Among the support programmes with which the European Union can promote scientific initiatives with international impact, the ERC Consolidator Grants are those which receive the greatest degree of economic support, as they are projects from all areas of science which are on the frontiers of knowledge. With these programmes it is expected that the research which is funded opens the way to scientific and technological results and new areas of research which, in the last analysis, can generate new ideas which give an impulse to innovation and invention in companies and tackle social challenges.

Contact at the IAC: Elena Khomenko (

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