Groups and thematic lines
Origin and evolution of stars and planets
Research group

PI: Margarida S. Cunha

The group is composed of 25 researchers, of which 14 are senior researchers, and 12 PhD students. The group is structured in 2 highly interactive subgroups. The two subgroups have strong expertise in stellar physics and Planetary Systems' research, respectively, and provide a large fraction of the human resources that are involved in two of the strategic thematic lines of IA, namely, "Towards the detection and characterization of other Earths" and "Towards a comprehensive study of Stars".

The scientific activity of the group revolves around key topics in planetary and stellar research. On the planetary side, the group has consolidated expertise in the detection and characterization of exoplanets through radial velocity and transit techniques, in the study of the star-planet relation as a probe for understanding planet formation and evolution, as well as in the observation and modeling of solar system atmospheres. On the stellar side, the group's expertise is centered on the theoretical modeling of stellar oscillations, on the extraction of atmospheric parameters of solar-type stars through the analysis of high-resolution spectra, as well as on multi-wavelength studies of the structure and dynamics of molecular clouds located across the Galaxy, seeking to characterize pre-stellar and star-forming cores, their embedded young stellar content and the interaction of young stars with the surrounding interstellar medium.

The group is highly internationalized, with the greatest part of its research being developed in collaboration with highly recognized institutes around the world, as well as in the context of important international consortia. Over the past years its members have been deeply involved in the HARPS, CORALIE, SOPHIE, and HARPS-North programs for exoplanets search, as well as in the exploitation of data from the ESA/Venus Express mission, aimed at understanding the evolution of the cloud system and dynamics of the Venus atmosphere. On the stellar side, the group was involved in the exploitation of asteroseismic data from the NASA mission Kepler and from the French/ESA mission CoRoT, providing new insights into stellar physics and stellar evolution. Likewise, group members participate in ground-based preparation, support, or follow up observations for space missions, such as the large ESO-GAIA public spectroscopic survey and the supporting network of ground-based observers for ESA/Venus express and JAXA/Akatsuki.

Finally, there is currently a strong involvement of the group in the development of new high-resolution spectrographs both in the visible and in the near-IR, with participation at Co-I level in ESPRESSO, for the VLT, and leadership of the Portuguese participation in SPIRou, for CFHT. Concerning space-based instruments, on the stellar side the team has working group leadership in the exploration of the seismic data to be acquired by the NASA Satellite TESS, that will be launch no later than June 2018. Likewise, the team has a sound participation in the ESA's planned missions CHEOPS and PLATO 2.0, which will open new horizons for exoplanetary systems research as well a for stellar astrophysics.

Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia