Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad 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)


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, Sara Bertrán de Lis Mas

Colaboradores del IAC: Jorge Sánchez Almeida, Fabio Tenegi Sanginés, Ramón J. García López, Flavia Dell'Agli, Ricardo Carrera Jiménez, Pedro Alonso Palicio, Claudio Dalla Vecchia, Félix Gracia Temich, Martín López Corredoira, 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, Inmaculada Martínez Valpuesta, Pablo Rodríguez Gil, Jorge Casares Velázquez


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



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.


·       Release DR13, the fourteenth data release of the Digital Sky Survey, including infrared spectra for more than 140,000 stars in our Galaxy.

·       Release the first data set from the space mission Gaia.

·       Publish the first study combining astrometry from Gaia and spectroscopy from the ground with APOGEE, demonstrating that the two components of the Galactic disk show opposite correlations with metallicity.

·       Show that A-type stars can be used as flux calibrators capable of providing an accuracy between 1 and 2%.


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