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Development of Space Astrophysics in Crete

Final Report Summary - ASTROSPACE (Development of space astrophysics in Crete)

Executive summary:

The astrophysics Group in Crete is based at the University of Crete (Heraklion, Greece) and the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH, Heraklion, Greece). It focuses on observational studies of Galactic and Extragalactic sources in the infrared (IR), optical and X-ray wavelengths as well as the development of theoretical models that provide more detailed understanding of the physical processes taking place in the studied objects. In order to improve the potential of the Group we embarked in a three-year programme aiming at:

1. building partnerships with leading research institutes in Europe;
2. hiring talented researchers that will increase the research output of the Group and transfer their skills on new data analysis and interpretation techniques; and
3. the development of Skinakas Observatory, the main local infrastructure, through the installation of new instruments and opening of its use to the international astronomical community.

This programme covered the period from one March 2008 to 28 February 2011 and allowed the hire of more ERs (MERs) and experienced researchers (ERs) for a total of 36 and 64 person-months respectively. In addition it allowed the organisation of two international workshops in the first year and two international conferences during the last year of the programme. The subject of each workshop and conference was related to the research interests of the Group and in particular IR and X-ray astrophysics. In addition, it allowed the exchange of extended visits between members of the Group and the five partnering institutes: the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (Germany); the Commissariat à l' énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA) Saclay (Paris, France); the University of Southampton in Southampton, United Kingdom (UK), Oxford University (Oxford, UK); Imperial College (London, UK). Finally, it allowed extended visits of experts in telescope optical design and the hire of personnel for four person-months for the design and development of new instruments at Skinakas Observatory and the development of a new website for the Group.

The result of these actions was a clear improvement in the research output of the Group during this period and an increase in its research potential. This is evident from the 65 refereed publications and 23 presentations in conferences, which have already resulted from the research activities funded under this programme. The main results are focused in the areas of:

1. Active galactic nuclei (AGN) - studies of their X-ray variability and spectral properties that set constraints on their structure and accretion processes;
2. accreting compact stellar objects (nature of the accreting systems, properties of the accretion processes in different types of systems);
3. the warm-hot intergalactic medium (detection and properties of this tenuous component of the intergalactic medium);
4. evolution of galaxies in dense environments;
5. nature of the most-luminous galaxies in the local Universe. All five areas are at the forefront of the research activity in the field of X-ray and IR astrophysics.

The increased research output of the Group, in combination with the transfer of knowledge to the members of the Group and the development of strong links with leading research institutes in Europe will have a lasting positive effect on the potential of the Group to draw additional funding from national and European sources and to attract highly qualified researchers for future hires of permanent and/or short-term positions.

Project context and objectives:

The goal of this project was to enhance the capabilities of the astrophysics Group in Crete in the area of X-ray and IR space astrophysics. The project aimed at upgrading the research potential, developing the necessary knowledge and skills of the local staff, creating new links and strengthening existing ones with well established Institutes in the European Union (EU). This would enable the Group to become more competitive in the newly developed, exciting area of space astrophysics.

Given the increasingly important role of space astrophysics in the European research environment since the early 1960s and the participation of Greece in the European Space Agency (ESA), the astrophysics Group in Crete had already started a conscious effort towards the development of its strength in this research area. The four last hires of faculty members that took place in the past six years mainly do research in topics related to X-ray (I. Papadakis, P. Reig, A. Zezas) and IR (V. Charmandaris) space astrophysics. Two postdoctoral fellows working in the same areas of research have been with our Group for three years before the start of the programme. Furthermore, the Group has hired two new faculty members (V. Pavlidou, K. Tassis) in order to strengthen its theoretical side.

What was clearly needed was a major upgrade to the existing research potential of the Group with the purpose of establishing it as a 'Centre of Excellence' in the area of X-ray/IR space astrophysics in the south-eastern corner of Europe. This project aimed exactly at providing this upgrade by ultimately achieving the following objectives:

1. Efficient and productive transfer of know-how for the analysis and interpretation of data obtained with space observatories, including the development of advanced data-signal processing techniques. This would allow us to take advantage of the wealth of data from space missions, which are currently available and enable us to make distinct science contributions in the future.
2. Identify key astrophysical problems in the research area of space astrophysics and initiate relevant research projects, which are likely to have a significant impact in the future.
3. Initiate and strengthen research collaborations with major research organisations in Europe.
4. Increase the visibility of the Group and disseminate results achieved within this project.
5. Upgrade the existing research infrastructure of the Group to fully exploit its potential within the context of space observations, given the fact that most of the X-ray and IR space observations require follow up optical observations (for the identification of any newly detected sources) and/or simultaneous optical observations (for the simultaneous determination of the broad band spectral energy distribution of the sources under investigation).
6. Monitor the progress made during the implementation of the project.
7. Assess the level of the overall research quality improvement achieved during and after the completion of the project.

These objectives would be achieved through the implementation of the following actions:

1. Recruiting ERs in the field of X-ray and IR space astrophysics, who would increase the critical mass of the Group and would lead it to a higher level of scientific competitiveness.
2. Two-way exchanges of research staff between the astrophysics Group in Crete and major research organisations in Europe (in particular the X-ray Group at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany and the IR Group in the astrophysics Section at CEA/Saclay in France).
3. Organisation of international workshops and conferences in the areas of X-ray and IR astrophysics.
4. Development of a new suite of instruments for the Skinakas Observatory.
5. Development of a web site for the Group presenting its research goals and achievements.
6. Establishment of an international Advisory/Evaluation Committee.

The development of a strong astrophysics Group in Crete would take advantage of the strong potential of the Group in the last few years and would have a positive impact in the development of research in one of EU's convergence regions. Establishment of a strong research centre in Europe's remote regions would help the decentralisation of research activities and the more uniform distribution of the research know-how in the ERA. It would also promote the development of more opportunities for research and innovation in less developed regions and strengthen the links between large and smaller research groups in Europe.

The project was split in three work-packages (WPs) related to the main research directions of the Group:

1. WP1: X-ray astrophysics
2. WP2: IR astrophysics
3. WP3: Development of Skinakas Observatory

The development of the Group in these three directions would be achieved by the combination of the following tasks:

1. Recruitment of one MER, who is a leader in one or more of the key research directions supported by the programme.
2. Recruitment of three ERs, who would work in projects related to these three directions.
3. Development of strong ties with leading research institutes in the European Research Area (ERA), through the frequent exchange of visits between members of the Group and these Institutes.
4. Development of the observational capabilities of Skinakas Observatory through the development and purchase of new high-quality instruments.
5. Organisation of two international workshops and two international conferences in these research fields aiming to raise the visibility of the Group.

In order to ensure the smooth and efficient implementation of the programme, we established an advisory / evaluation committee consisting of five senior, internationally recognised members of the partnering institutes. Members of the Committee visited regularly the Group in order to assess the progress of the project. Once a year they issued an Evaluation Report commenting on the progress towards the objectives of the programme. In addition, they offered expert advice on various subjects related to the management of the programme.

Project results:

The influx of talented ERs and MERs that was made possible through this programme, in combination with frequent exchange of visits between members of the Group and the twinning institutes, clearly benefited the research outcome of the Group. In addition, it led to the formation of strong ties with leading researchers in the European Area, which will have a lasting effect in the research potential of the Group.

The most immediate outcome of this programme was the initiation and completion of several research projects in collaboration with the incoming researchers and/or researchers at the partnering institutes. As a result, during the period of performance of this programme, members of our Group:

1. published 72 papers in refereed journals, reporting the results of their research activities funded by this programme
2. participated in 23 conferences, where they presented these results
3. organised successfully two international workshops and two international conferences in Crete.

The focus of the research activities has been in the fields of X-ray and IR astrophysics. Next we outline the main results in each field and we present all refereed publications and presentations that resulted from these activities.

X-ray astrophysics

In the field of X-ray astrophysics, the Group has been active in studies related to the following areas:

Active galactic nuclei (AGN)

AGN are some of the most intriguing objects in the Universe and among the brightest sources observed in the X-ray sky. The source of their intense energy output is generally accepted to be accretion of gas onto a super-massive black hole in the centre of their host galaxy. Therefore, their study can provide important information on the nature of their compact object and the physical processes that take place during the accretion of gas onto compact objects. In addition, it can be used to study phenomena related to the very strong gravitational fields in the vicinity of the nuclear black hole and the interplay between galaxy formation and the growth of nuclear super-massive black holes. Members of our Group have been actively working in this field and have published several papers which address several aspects of the physical mechanisms and structure of AGN.

Variability studies of AGN

Study of the variations of the intensity of the multi-wavelength emission of AGN as a function of time is a powerful tool for probing the physical processes that take place during the accretion of gas onto compact objects and for constraining the mass of the latter. During the course of this programme, our Group studied the variability of several AGN. One particular case was the analysis of long X-ray observations of one of the prototypical narrow-line Seyfert-1 galaxies (PKS 0558-504) obtained with European space Agency's XMM-Newton Observatory. The analysis of the time variability of these data showed that PKS 0558-504 has many similarities to accreting black-holes in our Galaxy in their highly accreting intermediate state. This is an important result for understanding the nature of this type of accreting galaxies. These studies also suggest that this object may also be the prototype of the parent population of the very radio-loud, narrow-line, Seyfert-1 galaxies recently detected at gamma-ray energies.

Structure of AGN

The X-ray spectral parameters of AGN can provide important information on the structure of their central regions. For example, very hot (million-degree) gas, which outflows from the inner regions of an AGN, can be traced by the absorption they cause to the radiation emitted by the AGN. A set of studies of these warm absorbers in nearby AGN showed that the absorbing gas consists of two or three discrete phases, which are in pressure equilibrium. In addition, they showed that the same out-flowing gas is responsible for the X-ray as well as the ultraviolet (UV) absorption features observed in the spectra of warm absorbers. This information is very important for understanding the physical conditions in the vicinity of the AGN and determining the fate of the inflowing gas that feeds the AGN.

Effect of AGN on their environment

AGN can affect their environment either by illuminating it (photo-ionisation) or by depositing gas and mechanical energy (e.g. in the form of an outflow). Our Group has been active in studying both aspects of AGN influence. Although a very large number of studies of the photo-ionisation of material in the vicinity of an AGN have been published since the development of photo-ionisation codes, studies of the response of the circum-nuclear material to the variable ionising continuum of the AGN only recently have started to emerge. Members of our Group performed several studies in this area, which have led to constraints of the parameters of the gas in the immediate vicinity of the AGN, as well as estimates of the distance of the various gaseous components from the central illuminating source.

The same studies showed that gas out-flowing from an AGN can have enough energy to leave its host galaxy. This has important implications for the evolution of the galaxy itself and the enrichment of the intergalactic space, as this gas may entrain material from the interstellar medium of the galaxy. Since these outflows transfer this metal-rich gas outside the galaxy, they can enrich the pristine gas found in the intergalactic space, while evacuating the galaxy from the material that would form the next generations of stars.

Several AGN exhibit outflows, in the form of collimated jets of particles moving at relativistic speeds. These jets carry large amounts of mechanical energy, which may heat and displace the interstellar medium of their host galaxy and affect its surrounding intergalactic medium. Members of the Group studied the effect of the deposition of AGN-jet mechanical energy, to the interstellar medium of the galaxy NGC4261 and its surrounding intergalactic medium. This study showed that the jet may affect the interstellar and intergalactic medium, but not the gas in the inner parts of the galaxy hosting the AGN, which has very important implications for the supply of the gas that fuels the AGN. The same study estimated the activity timescale of the AGN in NGC4261, one of the key questions in studies of AGN.

Low-ionisation narrow emission-line regions (LINERs)

LINERs are a class of AGN, which show optical emission lines of much lower excitation than other typical AGN. Members of the Group performed several systematic studies of individual objects as well as samples of LINERs, aiming at interpreting their X-ray and optical properties. These studies suggested that the X-ray and optical properties of LINERs could be explained in terms of a double absorber: one close to the nuclear source responsible for the X-ray obscuration and one at larger distances responsible for their optical properties. In another investigation, a comparison of the X-ray variability of LINERs with that of more typical AGN showed that the former could be the analogues of the latter, but at lower accretion rates. The nature of LINERs has been a matter of debate since their discovery in the early 1980s and these two systematic studies shed some light on this long-standing question.

Compact stellar accreting sources

Accreting binaries are systems consisting of a compact object that accretes gas from a donor star. As such, their study is very important since they provide information on the formation and evolution of compact objects (white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes) and the phenomena that take place during the accretion of gas onto compact objects, one of the most common processes in astronomical objects. Since the innermost regions of the accretion flow are under the influence of very strong gravitational fields, the study of the high-energy emission from accreting binaries can provide important information on phenomena related to these fields.

The activities of the Group have focused in two directions, namely detailed studies of individual sources in our Galaxy and its neighbours, aiming at unveiling their parameters (e.g. spectral types of the donor star, variability patterns and correlated X-ray-optical variability) and studies of the populations of accreting sources observed in nearby galaxies aiming at understanding the factors that affect the formation and evolution channels of the different accreting source populations.

Optical studies of individual accreting binaries (in particular Be/X-ray binaries) enabled the determination of their spectral types, an important factor for understanding the nature of the sources and estimating the mass of the donor star. In addition, study of their correlated optical/X-ray variability allowed us to investigate the connection between their accreting gas reservoir (inferred from the optical emission of the donor star) and their accretion activity (witnessed in the X-ray band). The same study allowed us to estimate in one object the timescale for the build-up and depletion of the accreting gas reservoir, one of the main open questions in studies of accreting binaries.

This programme also enabled the initiation of a systematic study of some of the most intriguing X-ray and gamma-ray sources in the sky: the anomalous X-ray pulsars (AXPs) and soft gamma-ray repeaters (SGRs). According to the currently favoured model, these sources have extremely strong magnetic fields, which are responsible for their X-ray and gamma-ray characteristics. We initiated the investigation of an alternative model, namely that the steady-state luminosity of AXPs and SGRs is due to accretion of matter from a remnant disk (fall-back disk) onto a neutron star with 'normal' magnetic field. The first results from this work showed that indeed AXPs and SGRs can be described in terms of this model without the need to invoke extraordinarily strong magnetic fields, which have only been invoked but have never been detected.

In addition to studies of individual sources, members of the Group embarked in systematic studies of source populations in other galaxies. The goal of these studies is to characterise the accreting binary populations that are present in different stellar environments and the parameters which affect their formation and evolution. In this respect we performed:

1. A systematic study of the accreting binaries in the small Magellanic cloud (our second nearest galaxy) and measured for the first time their formation efficiency with respect to the formation rate of their parent stellar populations. The same study placed important constraints on the strength of supernova-induced kicks in accreting binaries, a critical, but poorly constrained parameter, for modelling the populations of accreting binaries and understanding their populations.
2. Detailed studies of the accreting binary populations in nearby galaxies, aiming at understanding their dependence on galaxy parameters and thence address accreting binary formation and evolution scenarios.
3. Observational and theoretical studies of the ultra-luminous X-ray sources (ULXs) observed in nearby galaxies. These are the most luminous extra-nuclear sources observed in galaxies, the X-ray luminosity of which often dominating the total luminosity of the entire galaxy. These studies showed that ULXs are more common in stellar populations with low metal abundances, a trend that has important implications for the formation of these luminous sources in the early, lower-metallicity, Universe.

The warm-hot intergalactic medium (WHIM)

The study of the warm-hot (105-106 K) gas that pervades the intergalactic space is one of the main new research directions in X-ray astronomy. The presence of this gas is predicted from cosmological simulations, yet it remains elusive and its properties are to a large extent unknown. The main tool used in the study of the WHIM is the detection of its absorption signature on the featureless spectra of carefully selected distant AGN. Our Group has been actively involved in this field, by leading studies of the WHIM in the direction of two bright quasars. These studies led to the detection and characterisation of the WHIM in two new intergalactic filaments. These are the fourth and fifth such detections, which are particularly important feats given the difficulty of detecting these faint, tenuous filaments.

IR astrophysics

In the field of IR astrophysics the Group has been active in the area of star-formation in galaxies and in particular its cosmological evolution and connection with galaxy interactions. More specifically, the Group has performed studies in the following fields:

1. Groups of galaxies: Groups of galaxies are one of basic building blocks of cosmological structures. They are the smallest structures of gravitationally bound galaxies, which inevitably leads to interactions among their member galaxies. Members of our Group have led a systematic study of the galactic activity in compact groups of galaxies. This work showed that, in spite of the high galaxy density and increased number of interactions, galaxies in compact groups do not show evidence for elevated activity. In addition, this study showed that more evolved groups tend to have a lower degree of activity than their younger counterparts. This is an important finding for understanding the evolution of galaxies and in particular their star-forming activity.
2. Ultra-luminous IR galaxies (ULIRGs): ULIRGs are the most luminous galaxies in the observed Universe. The origin of their intense energy output has been one of the main subjects of research in IR astrophysics since their discovery in the 1980s. They are believed to be some of the most actively star-forming galaxies, while many of them are known to host intense AGN. Disentangling between these two possibilities and measuring the contribution of each of these two types of activity to the total energy output of ULIRGs can be done by analysing their optical and IR spectra and by modelling their broad band spectral energy distributions. Our Group has been very active in this field and has published several studies that used sophisticated methods to model the broad-band emission of ULIRGs and to derive spectral maps of their mid-IR emission in order to constrain their energy source.
3. Star formation is galaxies: Star formation is one of the two energy sources in galaxies (the other one is AGN activity). Our Group has been active in studying the obscured and unobscured star-forming activity using a wide suite of data ranging from the Ultraviolet to the far-IR. These studies investigated the star-forming activity in different environments, ranging from isolated galaxies to interacting systems and their tidal debris.

Skinakas Observatory

The third direction in the development of the astrophysics Group in Crete was the upgrade of Skinakas Observatory, which is managed by the Group and the rise of its scientific output and international visibility.

As part of the effort to upgrade the instrumentation available at the Observatory, we led a study for the installation of a new wide-field camera and the development of a new Guiding and Acquisition Module (GAM). This study was performed during the first year of this programme. Although the purchase of the new equipment was postponed due to unexpected difficulties, the results of this study are still valid and they will be used in the future, when the purchase of the wide field camera (or the development of other instruments) becomes possible.

This programme has greatly raised the visibility of the Observatory and has led to several collaborative projects with researchers and groups in other institutes. Observations from Skinakas Observatory have been used in 10 publications in the 2009 to 2011 period and several more publications that are currently in preparation.


Below we list all refereed publications of Group members, which are based on work funded under this programme.

From January to March 2011

1. González-Martín, O., Papadakis, I., Reig, P., Zezas, A., 'The scaling of X-ray variability with luminosity in ultra-luminous X-ray sources', 2011, A&A, 526, 132
2. Reig, P., 'Be/X-ray binaries', 2011, Ap&SS, 332, 1
3. Petric, A. O., Armus, L., Howell, J., Chan, B., Mazzarella, J. M., Evans, A. S., Surace, J. A., Sanders, D., Appleton, P., Charmandaris, V, Díaz-Santos, T., Frayer, D., Haan, S., Inami, H., Iwasawa, K., Kim, D., Madore, B., Marshall, J., Spoon, H., Stierwalt, S., Sturm, E., U, V., Vavilkin, T., Veilleux, S., 'Mid-IR Spectral Diagnostics of Luminous IR Galaxies', 2011, ApJ, 730, 28
4. Wang, Junfeng, Fabbiano, Giuseppina, Risaliti, Guido, Elvis, Martin, Karovska, Margarita, Zezas andreas, Mundell, Carole G., Dumas, Gaelle, Schinnerer, Eva, 'A Deep Chandra ACIS Study of NGC 4151. I. The X-ray Morphology of the three kpc Diameter Circum-nuclear Region and Relation to the Cold Interstellar Medium', 2011, ApJ, 729, 75
5. González-Martín, O., Papadakis, I., Braito, V., Masegosa, J., Márquez, I., Mateos, S., Acosta-Pulido, J. A., Martínez, M. A., Ebrero, J., Esquej, P., O'Brien, P., Tueller, J., Warwick, R. S., Watson, M. G., 'Suzaku observation of the LINER NGC 4102', 2011, A&A, 527, 142
6. Popescu, C. C., Tuffs, R. J., Dopita, M. A., Fischera, J., Kylafis, N. D., Madore, B. F., 'Modelling the spectral energy distribution of galaxies. V. The dust and PAH emission SEDs of disk galaxies', 2011, A&A, 527, 109
7. Nespoli, E., Reig, P., 'Discovery of a quasi-periodic oscillation in the X-ray pulsar 1A 1118-615: correlated spectral and aperiodic variability', 2011, A&A, 526, 7

1. Andrade-Velázquez, Mercedes, Krongold, Yair, Elvis, Martin, Nicastro, Fabrizio, Brickhouse, Nancy, Binette, Luc, Mathur, Smita, Jiménez-Bailón, Elena, 'The Two-Phase, Two-Velocity Ionised Absorber in the Seyfert one Galaxy NGC 5548', 2010, ApJ, 711, 888
2. Antoniou, V., Zezas, A., Hatzidimitriou, D., Kalogera, V., 'Star Formation History and X-ray Binary Populations: The Case of the Small Magellanic Cloud', 2010, ApJ Lett., 716, 140L
3. Baes, M., Fritz, J., Gadotti, D. A., Smith, D. J. B., Dunne, L., da Cunha, E., Amblard, A., Auld, R., Bendo, G. J., Bonfield, D., Burgarella, D., Buttiglione, S., Cava, A., Clements, D., Cooray, A., Dariush, A., de Zotti, G., Dye, S., Eales, S., Frayer, D., Gonzalez-Nuevo, J., Herranz, D., Ibar, E., Ivison, R., Lagache, G., Leeuw, L., Lopez-Caniego, M., Jarvis, M., Maddox, S., Negrello, M., Michalowski, M., Pascale, E., Pohlen, M., Rigby, E., Rodighiero, G., Samui, S., Serjeant, S., Temi, P., Thompson, M., van der Werf, P., Verma, A., Vlahakis, C., 'Herschel-ATLAS: The dust energy balance in the edge-on spiral galaxy UGC 4754', 2010, A&A, 518, 39
4. Bitsakis, T., Charmandaris, V., Le Floc'h, E., Díaz-Santos, T., Slater, S. K., Xilouris, E., Haynes, M. P., 'A mid-IR study of Hickson Compact Groups I: Probing the Effects of Environment in Galaxy Interactions', 2010, A&A, 517, 75
5. Boquien, M., Duc, P.-A. Galliano, F., Braine, J., Lisenfeld, U., Charmandaris, V., Appleton, P. N., 'Star Formation in Collision Debris: Insights from the Modeling of their Spectral Energy Distribution', 2010, AJ, 140, 2124
6. Brassington, N. J., Fabbiano, G., Blake, S., Zezas, A., Angelini, L., Davies, R. L., Gallagher, J., Kalogera, V., Kim, D.-W. King, A. R., Kundu, A., Trinchieri, G., Zepf, S., 'The X-ray Spectra of the Luminous LMXBs in NGC 3379: Field and Globular Cluster Sources', 2010, ApJ, 725, 1805
7. Caballero-García, M. D., Torres, G., Ribas, I., Rísquez, D., Montesinos, B., Mas-Hesse, J. M., Domingo, A., 'TYC 2675-663-1: a newly discovered W UMa system in an active state', 2010, A&A, 514, 36
8. Carrasco-González, C., Rodríguez, L.F. Torrelles, J.M. Anglada, G., González-Martín, O., 'A Bright Radio HH Object with Large Proper Motions in the Massive Star-forming Region W75', 2010, AJ, 139, 2433
9. Coe, M. J., Bird, A. J., Buckley, D. A. H., Corbet, R. H. D., Dean, A. J., Finger, M., Galache, J. L., Haberl, F., McBride, V. A., Negueruela, I., Schurch, M., Townsend, L. J., Udalski, A., Wilms, J., Zezas, A., 'INTEGRAL deep observations of the Small Magellanic Cloud', 2010, MNRAS, 406, 2533
10. Díaz-Santos, T., Charmandaris, V., Armus, L., Petric, A. O., Howell, J. H., Murphy, E. J., Mazzarella, J. M., Veilleux, S., Bothun, G., Inami, H., Appleton, P. N., Evans, A. S., Haan, S., Marshall, J. A., Sanders, D. B., Stierwalt, S., Surace, J. A., 'The Spatial Extent of (U)LIRGs in the mid-IR I: The Continuum Emission', 2010, ApJ, 723, 993
11. Díaz-Santos, T., Alonso-Herrero, A., Colina, L., Packham, C., Levenson, N. A., Pereira-Santaella, M., Roche, P. F., Telesco, C. M., 'A High Spatial Resolution Mid-IR Spectroscopic Study of the Nuclei and Star-Forming Regions in Luminous IR Galaxies', 2010, ApJ, 711, 328
12. da Cunha, E., Charmandaris, V., Díaz-Santos, T., Armus, L., Marshall, J. A., Elbaz, D., 'Exploring the physical properties of local star-forming ULIRGs from the ultraviolet to the IR', 2010, A&A, 523, 78
13. da Cunha, E., Eminian, C., Charlot, S.; Blaizot, J., 'New insight into the relation between star formation activity and dust content in galaxies', 2010, MNRAS, 403, 1894
14. Eales, S., Dunne, L., Clements, D., Cooray, A., de Zotti, G., Dye, S., Ivison, R., Jarvis, M., Lagache, G., Maddox, S., Negrello, M., Serjeant, S., Thompson, M. A., Kampen, E. Van, Amblard, A. andreani, P., Baes, M., Beelen, A., Bendo, G. J., Benford, D., Bertoldi, F., Bock, J., Bonfield, D., Boselli, A., Bridge, C., Buat, V., Burgarella, D., Carlberg, R., Cava, A., Chanial, P., Charlot, S., Christopher, N., Coles, P., Cortese, L., Dariush, A., da Cunha, E., Dalton, G., Danese, L., Dannerbauer, H., Driver, S., Dunlop, J., Fan, L., Farrah, D., Frayer, D., Frenk, C., Geach, J., Gardner, J., Gomez, H., González-Nuevo, J., González-Solares, E., Griffin, M., Hardcastle, M., Hatziminaoglou, E., Herranz, D., Hughes, D., Ibar, E., Jeong, Woong-Seob, Lacey, C., Lapi, A., Lawrence, A., Lee, M., Leeuw, L., Liske, J., López-Caniego, M., Müller, T., Nandra, K., Panuzzo, P., Papageorgiou, A., Patanchon, G., Peacock, J., Pearson, C., Phillipps, S., Pohlen, M., Popescu, C., Rawlings, S., Rigby, E., Rigopoulou, M., Robotham, A., Rodighiero, G., Sansom, A., Schulz, B., Scott, D., Smith, D. J. B., Sibthorpe, B., Smail, I., Stevens, J., Sutherland, W., Takeuchi, T., Tedds, J., Temi, P., Tuffs, R., Trichas, M., Vaccari, M., Valtchanov, I., van der Werf, P., Verma, A., Vieria, J., Vlahakis, C., White, Glenn J., 'The Herschel ATLAS', 2010, PASP, 122, 499
15. Fabbiano, G., Brassington, N. J., Lentati, L., Angelini, L., Davies, R. L., Gallagher, J., Kalogera, V., Kim, D.-W. King, A. R., Kundu, A., Pellegrini, S., Richings, A. J., Trinchieri, G., Zezas, A., Zepf, S., 'Field and Globular Cluster Low-mass X-ray Binaries in NGC 4278', 2010, ApJ, 725, 1824
16. Gliozzi, M., Papadakis, I. E., Grupe, D., Brinkmann, W. P., Raeth, C., Kedziora-Chudczer, L., 'A Panchromatic View of PKS 0558-504: An Ideal Laboratory to Study the Disk-Jet Link', 2010, ApJ 717, 1243
17. Gliozzi, M., Räth, C., Papadakis, I. E., Reig, P., 'Characterising black hole variability with nonlinear methods: the case of the X-ray Nova 4U 1543-47', 2010, A&A, 512, 21
18. González-Alfonso, E., Fischer, J., Isaak, K., Rykala, A., Savini, G., Spaans, M., van der Werf, P., Meijerink, R., Israel, F. P., Loenen, A. F., Vlahakis, C., Smith, H. A., Charmandaris, V., Aalto, S., Henkel, C., Weiß, A., Walter, F., Greve, T. R., Martín-Pintado, J., Naylor, D. A., Spinoglio, L., Veilleux, S., Harris, A. I., Armus, L., Lord, S., Mazzarella, J., Xilouris, E. M., Sanders, D. B., Dasyra, K. M., Wiedner, M. C., Kramer, C., Papadopoulos, P. P., Stacey, G. J., Evans, A. S., Gao, Y., 'Herschel observations of water vapour in Markarian 231', 2010, A&A, 518, 43
19. Gonzalez-Martin, O., Acosta-Pulido, J.A. Perez Garcia, A.M. Ramos Almeida, C., 'The Soft X-ray and Narrow-line Emission of Mrk 573 on Kiloparsec Scales', 2010, ApJ, 723, 1748
20. Howell, J. H., Armus, L., Mazzarella, J.M. Evans, A.S. Surace, J.A. Sanders, D.B. Petric, A., Appleton, P., Bothun, G., Bridge, C., Chan, B.H.P. Charmandaris, V., Frayer, D.T. Haan, S., Inami, H., Kim, D.-C. Lord, S., Madore, B.F. Melbourne, J., Schulz, B., U, V., Vavilkin, T., Veilleux, S., Xu, K. 'The Great Observatories All-Sky LIRG Survey: Comparison of Ultraviolet and Far-IR Properties', 2010, ApJ, 715, 572
21. Inami, H., Armus, L., Surace, J.A. Mazzarella, J., Evans, A.S. Sanders, D.B. Howell, J.H. Petric, A., Vavilkin, T., Iwasawa, K., Haan, S., Murphy, E.J. Stierwalt, S., Appleton, P.N. Barnes, J.E. Bothun, G., Bridge, C.B. Chan, B., Charmandaris, V., Frayer, D.T. Kewley, L.J. Kim, D.-C. Lord, S., Madore, B.F. Marshall, J.A. Matsuhara, H., Melbourne, J.E. Rich, J., Schulz, B., Spoon, H.W.W. Sturm, E., U, V., Veilleux, S., Xu, K., 'The buried starburst in the interacting galaxy IIZw096 as revealed by the Spitzer space Telescope', 2010, ApJ, 140, 63
22. Kashyap, V. L., van Dyk, D. A., Connors, A., Freeman, P.E. Siemiginowska, A., Xu, J., Zezas, A., 'On Computing Upper Limits to Source Intensities', 2010, ApJ, 719, 900
23. Krongold, Y., Elvis, M. andrade-Velazquez, M., Nicastro, F., Mathur, S., Reeves, J. N., Brickhouse, N. S., Binette, L., Jimenez-Bailon, E., Grupe, D., Liu, Y., McHardy, I. M., Minezaki, T., Yoshii, Y., Wilkes, B., 'Suzaku Monitoring of the Seyfert one Galaxy NGC 5548: Warm Absorber Location and Its Implication for Cosmic Feedback', 2010, ApJ, 710, 360
24. Laycock, S., Zezas, A., Hong, J., Drake, J. J., Antoniou, V., 'Exploring the Small Magellanic Cloud to the Faintest X-ray Fluxes: Source Catalog, Timing and Spectral Analysis', 2010, ApJ, 716, 1217
25. Leonidaki, I., Zezas, A., Boumis, P., 'A Multiwavelength Study of Supernova Remnants in Six Nearby Galaxies. I. Detection of New X-ray-selected Supernova Remnants with Chandra', 2010, ApJ, 725, 842
26. Müller-Sánchez, F., González-Martín, O., Fernández-Ontiveros, J.A. Acosta-Pulido, J.A. Prieto, M.A. 'The Stellar Kinematic Centre and the True Galactic Nucleus of NGC 253', 2010, ApJ, 716, 1166
27. Muxlow, T. W. B., Beswick, R. J., Garrington, S. T., Pedlar, A., Fenech, D. M., Argo, M. K., van Eymeren, J., Ward, M., Zezas, A., Brunthaler, A., 'Discovery of an unusual new radio source in the star-forming galaxy M82: faint supernova, supermassive black hole or an extragalactic microquasar?', 2010, MNRAS, 404, 109
28. Negrello, M., Hopwood, R., De Zotti, G., Cooray, A., Verma, A., Bock, J., Frayer, D. T., Gurwell, M. A., Omont, A., Neri, R., Dannerbauer, H., Leeuw, L. L., Barton, E., Cooke, J., Kim, S., da Cunha, E., Rodighiero, G., Cox, P., Bonfield, D. G., Jarvis, M. J., Serjeant, S., Ivison, R. J., Dye, S., Aretxaga, I., Hughes, D. H., Ibar, E., Bertoldi, F., Valtchanov, I., Eales, S., Dunne, L., Driver, S. P., Auld, R., Buttiglione, S., Cava, A., Grady, C. A., Clements, D. L., Dariush, A., Fritz, J., Hill, D., Hornbeck, J. B., Kelvin, L., Lagache, G., Lopez-Caniego, M., Gonzalez-Nuevo, J., Maddox, S., Pascale, E., Pohlen, M., Rigby, E. E., Robotham, A., Simpson, C., Smith, D. J. B., Temi, P., Thompson, M. A., Woodgate, B. E., York, D. G., Aguirre, J. E., Beelen, A., Blain, A., Baker, A. J., Birkinshaw, M., Blundell, R., Bradford, C. M., Burgarella, D., Danese, L., Dunlop, J. S., Fleuren, S., Glenn, J., Harris, A. I., Kamenetzky, J., Lupu, R. E., Maddalena, R. J., Madore, B. F., Maloney, P. R., Matsuhara, H., Michaowski, M. J., Murphy, E. J., Naylor, B. J., Nguyen, H., Popescu, C., Rawlings, S., Rigopoulou, D., Scott, D., Scott, K. S., Seibert, M., Smail, I., Tuffs, R. J., Vieira, J. D., van der Werf, P. P., Zmuidzinas, J., 'The Detection of a Population of Submillimeter-Bright, Strongly Lensed Galaxies', 2010, Science, 330, 800
29. Nicastro, F., Krongold, Y., Fields, D., Conciatore, M. L., Zappacosta, L., Elvis, M., Mathur, S., Papadakis, I., 'XMM-Newton and FUSE Tentative Evidence for a WHIM Filament Along the Line of Sight to PKS 0558-504', 2010, ApJ, 715, 854
30. Papadakis, I. E., Brinkmann, W., Gliozzi, M., Raeth, C., Nicastro, F., Conciatore, M. L., 'XMM-Newton long-look observation of the narrow line Seyfert one galaxy PKS 0558-504. I. Spectral analysis', 2010, A&A, 510, 65
31. Papadakis, I. E., Brinkmann, W., Gliozzi, M., Raeth, C., 'XMM-Newton long-look observation of the narrow-line Seyfert one galaxy PKS 0558-504. II. Timing analysis', 2010, A&A, 518, 28
32. Pereira-Santaella, M., Alonso-Herrero, A., Rieke, G.H.; Colina, L., Díaz-Santos, T., Smith, J.-D. T.; Pérez-González, P.G. Engelbracht, C. W., 'Local Luminous IR Galaxies. I. Spatially Resolved Observations with the Spitzer IR Spectrograph', 2010, ApJ Sup., 188, 447
33. Piconcelli, E., Vignali, C., Bianchi, S., Mathur, S., Fiore, F., Guainazzi, M., Lanzuisi, G. Maiolino, R. Nicastro, F., 'Witnessing the Key Early Phase of Quasar Evolution: An Obscured Active Galactic Nucleus Pair in the Interacting Galaxy IRAS 20210+1121', 2010, ApJ, 722, 147
34. Piconcelli, E., Vignali, C., Bianchi, S., Nicastro, F., Miniutti, G. Fiore, F., 'Investigating the Complex X-Ray Spectrum of a Broad-Line 2MASS Red Quasar: XMM-Newton Observation of FTM 0830+3759', 2010, ApJ, 710, 992
35. Reig, P., Slowikowska, A., Zezas, A., Blay, P., 'Correlated optical/X-ray variability in the high-mass X-ray binary SAX J2103.5+4545' 2010, MNRAS, 401, 55
36. Reig, P., Zezas, A., Gkouvelis, L., 'The optical counterpart to IGR J06074+2205: a Be/X-ray binary showing disc loss and V/R variability', 2010, A&A, 522, 107
37. Smith, H. A., Li, Aigen, Li, M. P., Köhler, M., Ashby, M. L. N., Fazio, G. G., Huang, J.-S. Marengo, M., Wang, Z., Willner, S., Zezas, A., Spinoglio, L., Wu, Y. L., 'Anomalous Silicate Dust Emission in the Type one Liner Nucleus of M81', 2010, ApJ, 716, 490
38. Stacey, G. J., Charmandaris, V., Boulanger, F., Wu, Yanling, Combes, F., Higdon, S. J. U., Smith, J. D. T., Nikola, T., 'The Energetics of Molecular Gas in Spiral Galaxies from H2 and far-IR Spectroscopy', 2010, ApJ, 721, 59
39. Trümper, J. E., Zezas, A., Ertan, Ü., Kylafis, N. D., 'The energy spectrum of anomalous X-ray pulsars and soft gamma-ray repeaters', 2010, A&A, 518, 46
40. van der Werf, P. P., Isaak, K. G., Meijerink, R., Spaans, M., Rykala, A., Fulton, T., Loenen, A. F., Walter, F., Weiß, A., Armus, L., Fischer, J., Israel, F. P., Harris, A. I., Veilleux, S., Henkel, C., Savini, G., Lord, S., Smith, H. A., González-Alfonso, E., Naylor, D., Aalto, S., Charmandaris, V., Dasyra, K. M., Evans, A., Gao, Y., Greve, T. R., Güsten, R., Kramer, C., Martín-Pintado, J., Mazzarella, J., Papadopoulos, P. P., Sanders, D. B., Spinoglio, L., Stacey, G., Vlahakis, C., Wiedner, M. C., Xilouris, E. M., 'Black hole accretion and star formation as drivers of gas excitation and chemistry in Mrk 231', 2010, A&A, 518, 42
41. Wang, J., Fabbiano, G., Risaliti, G., Elvis, M., Mundell, C. G., Dumas, G., Schinnerer, E., Zezas, A., 'Extended X-ray Emission in the H I Cavity of NGC 4151: Galaxy-scale Active Galactic Nucleus Feedback?', 2010, ApJ, 719, 208
42. Worrall, D. M., Birkinshaw, M., O'Sullivan, E., Zezas, A., Wolter, A., Trinchieri, G., Fabbiano, G., 'The jet and counterjet of 3C270 (NGC4261) viewed in the X-ray with Chandra', 2010, MNRAS, 408, 701
43. Zappacosta, L., Nicastro, F., Maiolino, R., Tagliaferri, G., Buote, D. A., Fang, T., Humphrey, P. J., Gastaldello, F., 'Studying the WHIM Content of Large-scale Structures Along the Line of Sight to H 2356-309', 2010, ApJ, 717, 74


1. Alonso-Herrero, A., Rieke, G., Colina, L., Pereira-Santaella, M., Gracia-Marin, M., Smith, J.D.T. Brandl, B.R. Charmandaris, V., Armus, L., 'The Extreme Star Formation Activity of Arp299, revisited', 2009, ApJ, 697, 600
2. Antoniou, V., Hatzidimitriou, D., Zezas, A., Reig, P., 'Optical Spectroscopy of 20 Be/X-ray Binaries in the Small Magellanic Cloud', 2009, ApJ, 707, 1080
3. Antoniou, V., Zezas, A., Hatzidimitriou, D., McDowell, J. C., 'The Chandra Survey of the Small Magellanic Cloud 'Bar'. II. Optical Counterparts of X-ray Sources', 2009, ApJ, 697, 1695
4. Armus, L., Mazzarella, J. M., Evans, A. S., Surace, J. A., Sanders, D. B., Iwasawa, K., Frayer, D. T., Howell, J. H., Chan, B., Petric, A., Vavilkin, T., Kim, D. C., Haan, S., Inami, H., Murphy, E. J., Appleton, P. N., Barnes, J. E., Bothun, G., Bridge, C. R., Charmandaris, V., Jensen, J. B., Kewley, L. J., Lord, S., Madore, B. F., Marshall, J. A., Melbourne, J. E., Rich, J., Satyapal, S., Schulz, B., Spoon, H. W. W., Sturm, E., U, V., Veilleux, S., Xu, K., 'GOALS: The Great Observatories All-Sky LIRG Survey', 2009, PASP, 121, 559
5. Bernard-Salas, J., Spoon, H. W. W., Charmandaris, V., Lebouteiller, V., Farrah, D., Devost, D., Brandl, B. R., Wu, Yanling, Armus, L., Hao, L., Sloan, G. C., Weedman, D., Houck, J. R., 'A Spitzer High-resolution Mid-IR Spectral Atlas of Starburst Galaxies', 2009, ApJ Sup., 184, 230
6. Bonfini, P., Hatzidimitriou, D., Pietsch, W., Reig, P., 'Spectroscopy of the bright optical counterparts of X-ray sources in the direction of M 31', 2009, A&A, 507, 705
7. Boquien, M., Duc, P.-A. Wu, Y., Charmandaris, V., Lisenfeld, U., Braine, J., Brinks, E., Iglesias-Páramo, J., Xu, C. K., 'Collisional Debris as Laboratories to Study Star Formation', 2009, ApJ, 137, 4561
8. Brandl, B. R., Snijders, L., den Brok, M., Whelan, D. G., Groves, B., van der Werf, P., Charmandaris, V., Smith, J. D., Armus, L., Kennicutt, R. C., Houck, J. R.. 'Spitzer-IRS Study of the Antennae Galaxies NGC 4038/39', 2009, ApJ, 699, 1982
9. Gliozzi, Mario, Papadakis, Iossif E., Eracleous, Michael, Sambruna, Rita M., Ballantyne, David R., Braito, Valentina, Reeves, James N., 'Short-Term Variability and Power Spectral Density Analysis of the Radio-Loud Active Galactic Nucleus 3C 390.3' 2009, ApJ, 703, 1021
10. González-Martín, O., Masegosa, J., Márquez, I., Guainazzi, M., 'Fitting Liner Nuclei within the Active Galactic Nucleus Family: A Matter of Obscuration?', 2009, ApJ, 704, 1570
11. González-Martín, O., Masegosa, J., Márquez, I., Guainazzi, M., Jiménez-Bailón, E., 'An X-ray view of 82 LINERs with Chandra and XMM-Newton data', 2009, A&A, 506, 1107
12. Guainazzi, M., Risaliti, G., Nucita, A., Wang, J., Bianchi, S., Soria, R., Zezas, A., 'AGN/starburst connection in action: the half million second RGS spectrum of NGC 1365', 2009, A&A, 505, 589
13. Hao, Lei, Wu, Yanling, Charmandaris, V., Spoon, H. W. W., Bernard-Salas, J., Devost, D., Lebouteiller, V., Houck, J. R., 'Probing the Excitation of Extreme Starbursts: High-Resolution Mid-IR Spectroscopy of Blue Compact Dwarfs', 2009, ApJ, 704, 1159
14. Keremedjiev, M., Hao, L., Charmandaris, V., 'The Mid-IR Narrow-Line Baldwin Effect Revealed by Spitzer', 2009, ApJ, 690, 1105
15. Papadakis, I. E., Sobolewska, M., Arevalo, P., Markowitz, A., McHardy, I. M., Miller, L., Reeves, J. N., Turner, T. J., 'A correlation between the spectral and timing properties of AGN', 2009, A&A, 494, 905
16. Prestwich, A. H., Kilgard, R. E., Primini, F., Mc Dowell, J. C., Zezas, A., 'The Luminosity Function of X-ray Sources in Spiral Galaxies', 2009, ApJ, 705, 1632
17. Reig, P., Torrejón, J. M., Negueruela, I., Blay, P., Ribó, M., Wilms, J., 'Discovery of slow X-ray pulsations in the high-mass X-ray binary 4U 2206+54', 2009, A&A, 494, 1073
18. Slowikowska, A., Kanbach, G., Kramer, M., Stefanescu, A., 'Optical polarisation of the Crab pulsar: precision measurements and comparison to the radio emission', 2009, MNRAS, 397, 103
19. Sobolewska, M. A., Papadakis, I. E., 'The long-term X-ray spectral variability of AGN', 2009, MNRAS, 399, 1597
20. Spoon, H. W. W., Armus, L., Marshall, J. A., Bernard-Salas, J., Farrah, D., Charmandaris, V., Kent, B. R., 'High-Velocity Neon Line Emission From the ULIRG IRAS F00183-7111: Revealing the Optically Obscured Base of a Nuclear Outflow', 2009, ApJ, 693, 1223
21. Tyler, K.D. Le Floc'h, E., Rieke, G.H. Dey, A., Desai, V., Brand, K. Borys, C., Jannuzi, B.T. Armus, L., Dole, H., Papovich, C., Brown, M.J.I. Blaylock, M., Higdon, S. J. U., Higdon, J.L. Charmandaris, V., Ashby, M.L.N. Smith, H.A. 'Spitzer 70/160 µm observations of high-redshift ULIRGs and HyLIRGs in the Boötes field', 2009, ApJ, 691, 1846
22. Wu, Yanling, Charmandaris, V., Huang, J., Spinoglio, L., Tommasin, S., 'Spitzer/IRS 5-35µm Low-resolution Spectroscopy of the 12µm Seyfert Sample', 2009, ApJ, 701, 658


The research activities of the Group have been showcased in the two international workshops and the two international conferences that were organised in the first and last year of this programme respectively:

1. 'Workshop on high-energy properties of AGN', 2 to 6 June 2008, Crete, Greece, (see online)
2. 'Challenges in IR Extragalactic astrophysics', 15 - 18 September 2008, Crete, Greece (see online)
3. 'Challenges in IR Extragalactic astrophysics II', Crete, Greece, 26 September - one October 2010 (refer to online)
4. 'High Energy View of Accreting Objects: AGN and X-ray Binaries', 5-14 October 2010, Crete, Greece (refer to online).

In addition to these two meetings, members of the Group have presented their work in several other meetings listed below in chronological order.


1. Seminar at the Department of Astronomia i Meteorologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona (Spain), 28 February 2011


1. Workshop on 'IR Emission, ISM and Star Formation', Heidelberg, Germany, 22 to 24 February, 2010 [Talk]
2. Special Session on 'Missing Baryons of the 2010 HEAD meeting' (1 to 4 March 2010, Big Island, Hawaii, USA). [Talk]
3. 'High Time Resolution astrophysics IV - The Era of Extremely Large Telescopes - HTRA IV, 5 to 7 May 2010, Agios Nikolaos, Greece [Talk]
4. Herschel First Results Symposium. ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands, May 2010. [Poster]
5. Astronomical Data Analysis 6', Monastir, Tunisia, 3 to 7 May 2010 [Talk]
6. Extreme Starburst in the Local Universe. Granada, Spain, June 2010. [Talk]
7. 'Galaxy Evolution: IR to millimeter Wavelength Perspective', 24-29 October 2010, Guillin, China [Invited Talk]


1. High-Resolution X-ray Spectroscopy: IXO (17 to 20 March 2009, Holmbury St Mary, UK) [Talk]
2. 'IAU Symposium 267: Co-ovelution of Central Black Holes and Galaxies', IAU General Assembly, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 5 to 14 August 2009 [Talk]
3. 'Reionisation to Exoplanets: Spitzer's Growing Legacy'. Pasadena, Californai (CA), USA, October 2009. [Poster]
4. 'Missing Baryons, Accretion and Feedback in Galaxies' (30 November to 2 December 2009, Sydney, Australia). [Talk]
5. Herschel Science Demonstration Phase Initial Results Workshop. Madrid, Spain, December 2009, [Talk]


1. Fourth Cosmology Workshop Galaxy Formation and Evolution (17 to 19 April 2008, Irvine, CA, USA). [Talk]
2. Tidal Dwarf Galaxy Workshop, 19 to 21 May 2008, London, UK. [Invited Talk]
3. 'The X-ray Universe 2008' Symposium (27 to 30 May 2008, Granada, Spain). [Talk]
4. 'The Central Kpc: AGN and Their Hosts' (2008, June 4-6, Ierapetra, Crete, Greece). [Talk]
5. 'The Cosmic Odyssey of the Elements', 23-27 June 2008, Aegina [Invited Talk]
6. The DWG meeting of the Canadian space Agency, at 37th COSPAR Scientific Assembly (2008, July 13-20, Montreal, Canada).
7. Conference on 'Star forming Dwarf Galaxies', Crete, two October 2008, Crete [Talk].

Potential impact:

This programme had clearly a very positive impact on the research potential of the Group. This is evident from the large number of publications that resulted from it, the initiation of new projects and the very positive response of the international community to the four meetings organised during its course. Most importantly, the systematic effort to forge strategic partnerships with leading research institutes in the ERA has led to long-term collaborations, which are most likely to result in several follow-up project and further exchanges. In addition, as a result of this programme, we are in the process of discussing strategic partnerships that involve Skinakas Observatory. This is clearly a very positive outcome with significant potential for the involvement of members of the Group in new international collaborations and further development of the Observatory's capabilities.

This programme allowed the hire of six talented researchers, in one of Europe's most remote Research Groups, for periods of a few months up to three years. The raised visibility of the Group, in combination with the positive opinion that these incoming researchers have formed for the Group, its research capabilities and the area of Crete in general, will have a positive impact in our effort to attract high quality researchers in the future. Most importantly, it helped to make the Group more attractive to highly successful Greek researchers, who work abroad. This has the clear benefit of attracting the best possible candidates for future hires and increase the number of talented researchers who return to Greece, which to some extend will help to reduce the brain drain from which Greek research has been heavily affected. Two recent examples are the two new Assistant Professors that were hired over the last year by the Group. Both are highly successful researchers working in the United States, who under other conditions, most likely, would continue their careers outside the ERA.

The increased potential of the Group has also helped significantly its competitiveness within the Greek research community and in particular its capability to attract research funding from national sources when it becomes available. The increased research output of the Group, the exchange of data with other teams and transfer of expertise in new methods and data analysis techniques that were the result of this programme, helped to create a stronger and more competitive team that will be in a better position to attract funding in the future in order to maintain its momentum.

A significant asset of the Group is Skinakas Observatory. The raised visibility of the Observatory, which was the result of this programme, benefitted its potential to participate in long-term international partnerships. For example, the Group is already discussing the involvement of the Observatory in two major international partnerships on cutting edge programmes. The raised visibility of the Observatory and being a partner in large international collaborations will clearly have a positive impact in our effort to secure funding for its operations and improve its observing capabilities. The Observatory currently employs five members of staff, two of which are on short-term contracts. Development of the Observatory will potentially secure funding for these positions and will attract additional highly skilled optical astronomers.

Dissemination of the results

One of the main efforts during this programme was to publicise all scientific results in order to best advertise the work performed under this programme and raise the visibility of the Group. Our dissemination efforts were focused in two directions: publications in refereed journals and presentations at international conferences. This programme resulted in 72 refereed publications in high impact journals. Many more publications based on results from this programme are currently in preparation. In addition to the two workshops and two conferences we organised in the beginning and the end of this programme, our results have been presented in several international conferences, in many cases in the form of invited talks.

A key component in our dissemination activities is the development and maintenance of a dedicated web-page (see online), the development of which was supported by the Grant. This website presents the Group, its facilities and activities and showcases the important recent scientific results. During the last year of the programme, we also developed a version of this website in the Greek language aiming to inform the Greek public to topics related to modern astrophysics and to present the activities of the Group to the general Greek community.

Obviously, these dissemination activities will continue after the end of this programme as our funding permits. We make every effort to spread the scientific results obtained during the period of this Grant by publishing any papers currently in preparation, posting publications in preprint servers and relevant newsletters, publicising them at the Groups' web site and of course presenting them in relevant conferences. This way, we will reach a wide and diverse audience and we will further increase the visibility of the Group, one of the main goals of this programme.

List of websites:

Funding from this programme enabled the development of a website showcasing the research activities of the Group. This website can be found at

It consists of three main sections:

1. a description of the Group (a list of its members, contact information and research interests)
2. a description of the research interests of the Group aimed at the general public, which also presents the main scientific results of the Group
3. a description of the other activities of the Group (organisation of conferences, the seminar programme etc).

The website is updated regularly to reflect the latest changes in the composition of the Group, its activities and scientific accomplishments.

In order to maximise the diffusion of the activities of the Group, the website is bi-lingual (English and Greek). The Greek version of the website is aimed at the general public and in addition to presenting the achievements of the Group it presents the basic scientific background of its research activities. We also maintain a website presenting the capabilities of Skinakas Observatory, which is our main local facility. This website contains information about the telescope and available instruments, a summary of the research subjects that are being addressed with Skinakas Observatory and a list of resent results.