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Accurate ages of stars

Objective

Age is a fundamental property of stars. It is an essential tool to understand many diverse phenomena in astrophysics, including the evolution of stars, planetary systems, and the Galaxy. However, age is currently the most poorly known property of a star, often to no better than 30-40% accuracy, which is not good enough.
The ages of stars cannot be measured directly; they can only be determined by comparing age-sensitive observables with model predictions. Asteroseismology, the study of stellar oscillations, offers the unique opportunity to estimate the ages of stars to within 5-10% of their lifetime. Using state-of-the-art space observations (CoRoT and Kepler) of stellar oscillation frequencies combined with ground-based spectroscopy (e.g. APOGEE), I propose to uniformly determine accurate ages of thousands of stars with unprecedented precision. Building on my extensive experience in this field, I plan to develop and implement new asteroseismic diagnostics for a large number of main-sequence stars, subgiants and red giants. These new age determination methods are expected to be calibrated using stars in binary systems and clusters, and compared with classical methods.
Uniform age determinations for a large sample of stars in different directions in the sky will greatly advance the study of stellar populations in the Galaxy. This project is ambitious, and success requires a dedicated approach from a competent team with the right resources and the right leader.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/astronomy/galactic astronomy/solar astronomy
  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/astronomy/stellar astronomy/asteroseismology
  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/astronomy/physical cosmology/galaxy formation and evolution

Call for proposal

ERC-2013-StG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-SG - ERC Starting Grant

Host institution

MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN EV
Address
Hofgartenstrasse 8
80539 Munich
Germany
Activity type
Other
EU contribution
€ 1 483 200
Principal investigator
Saskia Hekker (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Detlef Steinmann (Mr.)

Beneficiaries (1)

MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN EV
Germany
EU contribution
€ 1 483 200
Address
Hofgartenstrasse 8
80539 Munich
Activity type
Other
Principal investigator
Saskia Hekker (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Detlef Steinmann (Mr.)