NPF Director Organizes International Program on White Dwarfs

“White Dwarfs as Probes of the Evolution of Planets, Stars, the Milky Way and the Expanding Universe” is the international program organized by Matthias Schreiber, professor of the Physics Department of the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María and director of the Nucleus Millennium of Planetary Formation (NPF), together with a group of experts from different…

NPF has a new PhD in Astrophysics!

In early March 2022, Felipe Lagos defended his thesis to obtain the degree of PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Valparaiso. His research, entitled “White dwarfs in binaries and hierarchical triple systems as a test for mass transfer models and close binary formation mechanisms”, obtained the highest grade. Lagos, who is also a member…

The Impact of Gas on Dust Grains in Debris Disks

An international group of astrophysicists, led by NPF researcher Johan Olofsson, concluded that the presence of gas in these disks affects the dynamics of most grains, especially the smaller ones. The main components of the debris disks, young analogs to the Kuiper belt in the Solar System, are kilometer-sized bodies known as planetesimals. These objects…

Researchers propose the existence of a companion star for the HD169142 system

According to our current knowledge, planets should form in a disk that is orbiting around forming stars, creating complex and very interesting systems for the scientific community. One of these systems is HD169142, which has one of the most studied protoplanetary disks due to its particular inclination, facing us when we observe it from the…

Searching for moons with rings outside the Solar System 

The realm of exoplanets, i.e. planets orbiting a star other than the Sun, never ceases to amaze in terms of the richness and diversity of the worlds that inhabit them. Interestingly, the discovery of these new worlds does not necessarily come “out of the box” from the observations, as theoretical and computational models need to…

Improving the technique for finding exoplanets 

Among other messengers, the main tool to study the Universe is the light we receive from astronomical objects. For this reason, the techniques used to obtain and process these images are of great relevance. In this line, a publication led by Nicolás Godoy, PhD student at the Institute of Physics and Astronomy of the University…

Scientists observe an eclipse produced by dust grains near a star

The study, involving NPF researcher Johan Olofsson, concludes that this may have been caused by an event similar to the one that led to the formation of our natural satellite. About 20% of stars have a debris disk orbiting around them. Its presence means that there are tiny dust grains, about the size of a…

Tracing the orbits of young stars with interferometry

Stars are usually thought of as isolated objects, but most of them form in multiple systems. This can be very helpful to better characterize them, since by following their relative motions astronomers constrain some crucial parameters, such as their masses. Unfortunately, studying their movement is very complicated, because if the objects are too far away…

Clues to planet formation?

Protoplanetary disks are the places where planets form. In many of them, ring-like structures, such as bright rings, or central cavities in the dust distribution have been observed, structures that are commonly interpreted as indirect clues to the presence of planets. An international team of astrophysicists led by Karina Maucó, a postdoctoral researcher at Millennium…

Studying the morphology of protoplanetary disks

Debris disks are the natural byproduct of the planet formation process. They are disks surrounding stars, created by collisions of planetesimals that have formed in younger stages of the systems, when the stars are still surrounded by large amounts of gas. The process of planet formation releases a large amount of micrometer-sized dust grains, whose…

Studying the time evolution of the disks in which planets form

A group of NPF scientists investigated the lifetime  of protoplanetary disks in triple stellar systems. A common result of star formation is that most stars are created as part of multiple stellar systems. We also know that the formation of protoplanetary disks is a natural by-product of star formation and, therefore, protoplanetary disks are expected…

NPF has a new master in astrophysics: Catalina Zamora

Since April 2021, the Millennium Nucleus of Planetary Formation has a new master in astrophysics. The now former master student at the Institute of Physics and Astronomy of the UV, Catalina Zamora, defended her thesis after an intense research on the influence of stellar activity on the evolution of dust grains in the debris disks around red…

Unveiling the future of ultra-short-period exoplanets

The last decades of space exploration, and in particular “exoplanet hunting”, i.e., the search for planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, gave us insights into the evolutionary paths leading the current architecture of our planetary system as well as of other systems. To date, the discovery of 4715 exoplanets belonging to 3247 planetary systems…

The Shadow Play of Forming Planets

Planets are thought to form inside disks of gas and dust, called protoplanetary or circumstellar disks, orbiting young stars. In recent years, large telescopes such as ALMA have delighted us with detailed images of these disks. However, it has been difficult to detect planets in their formation process, although we can deduce that they are…

NPF presents and publishes in prestigious instrumentation conference series

In 2020, NPF researchers presented several articles at the prestigious SPIE conference series, resulting in three publications in the proceedings of the “SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation 2020” section. SPIE is a worldwide conference on astronomical instrumentation -including telescopes- held every two years and in 2020, due to the spread of the coronavirus in the…

NPF students are awarded with important national scholarships for doctoral studies

In the second week of February, the National Agency for Research and Development, ANID, announced the results of the National Doctoral Scholarship competition for the 2021 academic year. Aurora Aguayo, Javier Arancibia and Felipe Lagos, all PhD candidates of the Institute of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Valparaiso and members of the Millennium…

Three NPF researchers were awarded grants in the Fondecyt 2021 competition

The Fondecyt 2021 competition, of the Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo (ANID), granted funding for 3 projects of researchers of the Núcleo Milenio de Formación Planetaria (NPF), one regular and two for postdoctoral research, which will be developed for the next 4 and 3 years, respectively. They are the associate researcher Jorge Cuadra, and…

How does a forming planet behave?

Planets form inside protoplanetary disks, structures of gas and dust that revolve around young stars. As these planets grow, gravitational potential energy is transformed into kinetic energy and heat, which can have a great impact on the surrounding material, heating and even expelling gas and dust. In recent years, different teams have obtained images of…

What is the population of spectroscopic binaries?

Using associations of nearby young stars, the properties of those stars can be studied in detail. For example, it is well known that many stars are not “isolated objects” but evolve in space linked to a companion, i.e. they are binary systems, or even triple systems and more. Among these binaries there is also a…

Debris discs in binary stars

About 20% of the stars have what the astronomers call a “debris disk” orbiting around them. Very much like the Kuiper belt or the asteroid belt around our sun, that are, respectively, the “home” of comets and asteroids. Those disks are composed of large planetesimals or bodies with sizes of ~1,000 km, which collide with…

NPF is renewed for three more years 

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…

Trojans in our Solar System 

In 1772 Lagrange identified five points of balance between three bodies: the Sun, a planet, and a small object. In this context, stability refers to the fact that at these points the small object will be equally attracted by the two bodies, with the same intensity. The objects (asteroids) share the same orbit as the planet…

First light from an NPF carbon fiber mirror!

The Núcleo Milenio de Formación Planetaria, NPF, works in collaboration with the Centro Tecnológico de Valparaíso, CCTVal, in the production of carbon fiber astronomical mirrors made entirely in Chile and recently managed to observe the first celestial object with one of these mirrors. July 2020 was a historic month for the Núcleo Milenio de Formación…

NPF astronomer participates in research that discovered strange variable star

An international group of astronomers found a star whose brightness increases and decreases without an specified pattern. VVV-WIT-07, as the object was named, belongs to the Milky Way and only two other stars with a similar type of variability are known, in which case the physical mechanism that produces an abrupt decrease in its brightness…