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Development of Space Astrophysics in Crete

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A boost for astrophysics in Crete

Greece's island of Crete is home to the Crete Astrophysics Group, which has in recent years devoted much of its human resources capacity to space astrophysics. The ASTROSPACE project, funded by the Research Potential grant system of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme, was set up to further develop the group's research potential.

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Established to further train local personnel and increase the group's visibility, the 'Development of space astrophysics in Crete' (ASTROSPACE) project also aimed to build partnerships with leading European research institutes, and hire researchers to boost research output. Another major project objective centred on developing the Skinakas Observatory through the installation of new instruments, and making it accessible to the international astronomical community. The Crete Astrophysics Group focuses on observational studies of galactic and extragalactic sources in the infrared (IR), optical and X-ray wavelengths. Researchers are also developing theoretical models that provide more detailed understanding of the physical processes taking place in the studied objects that include active galactic nuclei, accreting compact stellar objects and the warm-hot intergalactic medium. The three-year programme saw the hire of more researchers, the organisation of two international workshops and two international conferences. Each workshop and conference was related to the research interests of the group, and IR and X-ray astrophysics in particular. Extended exchange visits between members of the group and the five partnering institutes were realised, as were extended visits of experts in telescope optical design. Additionally, personnel were hired for the design and development of new instruments at Skinakas Observatory, and the development of a new group website. Overall, ASTROSPACE succeeded in improving the group's research output and boosting its research potential, as evidenced by the 65 refereed publications and 23 conference presentations from the start of the project. These developments, together with the transfer of knowledge to members of the group, and strong links with leading research institutes, bode well for the facility's future. The group will be able to draw additional funding from national and European sources and attract highly qualified researchers for future short-term or permanent positions.

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