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

Astrophysics Research Projects

Physic of Stars, Planetary Systems and the Interstellar Medium

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Chemical Abundances in Stars (P/301008)


Project Web

Rafael Augusto García Dias, Pedro Alonso Palicio, Thomas Masseron, Yeisson Martínez Osorio, Rafael Rebolo López, David García Álvarez, Ricardo Carrera Jiménez, Cristina Zurita Espinosa, David Sánchez Aguado 

IAC Collaborators: Jorge Sánchez Almeida, Andrés Asensio Ramos, Jonay González Hernández, José Luis Rasilla Piñeiro, Jose Alfonso López Aguerri, Francisco Garzón López, Anibal García Hernández, Roi Alonso Sobrino, Enrique Joven Álvarez, Olga Zamora Sánchez, Pablo Rodríguez Gil, Fabio Tenegi Sanginés, Jorge Casares Velázquez, Ramón J. García López, Flavia Dell'Agli, Pedro Alonso Palicio, Claudio Dalla Vecchia, Félix Gracia Temich, Martín López Corredoira 

I. Hubeny (Univ. of Arizona, EEUU); D.L. Lambert, L. Koesterke, I.; Ramirez, M. Shetrone, J.J. Hermes, D. E. Winget, B. Castanheira (Univ.; of Texas at Austin, EEUU); M. Asplund (Australian National University,; Australia); W. Brown (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics,; EEUU); M. Kilic (Univ. of Oklahoma, EEUU); S. Majewski (Univ. of Virginia, EEUU); R. Schiavon (Liverpool John Moores Univ., RU); J. Holtzman (Univ. New Mexico, EEUU); H.-G. Ludwig (Univ. of Heidelberg, Alemania); C. del Burgo (Instituto Nacional de Optica y Electronica, Mexico); T. Beers (Notredame, EEUU), V. S. Smith (National Optical Astronomy Observatory, EEUU); Y. Sun Lee (Chungnam National University, Republic of Korea); M. Cropper, D. Kawata (University College London, RU), M. P. Ruffoni, J. C. Pickering (Imperial College, RU), K. Cunha (Observatorio Nacional, Brasil), C. Rockosi (Univ. of California at Santa Cruz, EEUU), Andrew Cooper (Univ. of Durham, RU), Boris Gaensicke (Univ. of Warwick, RU)


Stellar spectroscopy allows us to determine the properties and chemical compositions of stars. From this information for stars of different ages in the Milky Way, it is possible to reconstruct the chemical evolution of the Galaxy, as well as the origin of the elements heavier than boron, created mainly in stellar interiors. It is also possible to study stellar formation, and the formation of the Galaxy, from the signature of the Galactic potential on the stellar orbits, and the distributions of mass, ages, and the abundance of heavy elements.

Obtaining high-resolution spectra, as necessary for studies of chemical compositions, requires advanced and efficient instrumentation. This is particularly true for research that calls for large stellar samples, which demands the observation of hundreds or thousands of sources simultaneously. Efficiency requires that the data processing and analysis are performed in an automated way.

The interpretation of spectra is based on physical models of the atmospheres of the stars, from where the light that we observe escapes the stars. The main ingredients for building such models are the fluid dynamics, and the properties of the atoms, ions, and molecules, especially regarding their interactions with the radiation coming from the stellar interior. Once we have a plausible model, it is possible to compute in detail how the radiation propagates through the stellar atmosphere, and the emergent spectrum, which can then be iteratively compared with the observations to refine the model.

This project covers three different research fronts:

  • Improving model atmospheres and simulations of stellar spectra.
  • Developing tools for acquisition, reduction, and analysis of spectroscopic observations, in particular for the determination of chemical abundances in stars.
  • Designing, preparing, and executing spectroscopic studies of stars aimed at understanding a) the most relevant aspects of the physics of stellar atmospheres, b) the formation and evolution of stars, c) the origin of the chemical elements, and d) the formation, structure, and evolution of the Milky Way galaxy.
  • Perform the optical alignment of the acquisition arm of HORS in GTC.
  • Publish the first PRISTINE papers.
  • Identify Ce lines in the APOGEE H-band spectra.

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