In October 2020, nine projects were selected in the Millennium Nucleus Competition in Natural and Exact Sciences, among them the Millennium Nucleus for Planetary Formation, NPF. Thus, the center begins its second period from the end of 2020 until the end of 2023. The first stage began in 2017 under the leadership of astrophysicist Amelia Bayo, who will continue to lead the project.
“The renewal of the NPF of course implies continuity, in the sense that when we proposed the first part, it was really a first step. The research lines of observation and theory of planetary formation were already established individually, but there was very little collaboration between the groups. On the other hand, we had to start with the research line on carbon fiber mirrors for astronomy, since what existed for particle physics was not adequate for astronomy; same seed, carbon fiber mirrors, but very different implementation,” explains Bayo.
NPF officially began in September 2017, hosted by the University of Valparaiso and the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, with all of its associated researchers in the fifth region, except for the group of theorists who, during these years, moved from the Metropolitan Region to the Valparaiso region.
“In the specific case of my group, we are investigating the formation of planets in binary star systems, the transport of water in the Solar System, arriving in comets or asteroids to Earth, and how the energy released by the formation of a planet affects its own growth, among other topics. We already have some results, but this renewal allows us to pursue our research on all the facets of planetary formation,” points out Jorge Cuadra, NPF associate researcher and academic at the Adolfo Ibáñez University, Viña del Mar campus.
After the first 3 years, according to Amelia Bayo, NPF is facing the challenge of producing knowledge and technology at the level of international competition. As she highlights, since the creation of the center, the number of articles linking theoretical astronomy with observations has significantly increased and a laboratory is currently being established to work on instrumentation.