The first stars, which were formed in the Universe were sources of ionising photons, but also of atomic nuclei more massive than those produced during the big bang. Understanding the nature of these stars and their role in the build up of the chemical elements (nucleosynthesis) is of crucial importance also to understand the formation of galaxies at redshift z~5 or larger. Considering that the Main Sequence lifetime of a star of 0.8 solar masses is of the order of the age of the Universe, the first stars o f this low mass are still observable today and they provide the fossil record of the chemical composition of the Young Universe.
In this field the European research has taken the lead thanks to the excellent capacities of the ESO-VLT 8.2m telescopes. The most active European centre in the field is the Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, where much of the scientific expertise and computational capabilities are available. However the complexity of the analysis required and the large amount of data demand an effort, which is on a European scale. We therefore propose to establish a European excellence team in Paris-Meudon devoted to the study of the first stars and their chemical composition.
This will draw from the expertise and know-how present in Paris and will attract as many as four top class researchers from other European countries, thus becoming the European focal point for this research. The presence of such a centre will positively counter-act on the on-going brain-drain suffered by Europe and will give a fundamental contribution at placing European research on the leading edge.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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