Research

Press Releases

Below are some of the press releases relating to the research work done by the members of the PS2E group:

April 19, 2019 : Sébastien Deheuvels wins the SF2A 2019 Young Researcher Award

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Since 2012, Sébastien Deheuvels has been a lecturer at the University Paul Sabatier of Toulouse, France, and conducts his research at the IRAP/Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées. He is a specialist in internal structure and stellar evolution. Read the Press Release ...

March 5, 2019 : SPIRou : the hunt for exoplanets is open

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One year after its installation at the top of the Maunakea volcano on the large island of Hawaii, and after several months of intensive testing, SPIRou has just passed its acceptance exam with great success, and is therefore able to begin its scientific explorations. Read the Press Release ...

August 13, 2018 : Singular waves to heat the solar corona

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Superoscillations, a surprising wave effect recently discovered in physics, could be one of the mechanisms responsible for dissipating waves in the solar corona and thus for coronal heating. Researchers at the Institut de recherche en astrophysique et planétologie of Toulouse (IRAP) showed in an article published in the journal   Astronomy & Astrophysics that these superoscillations heat the coronal plasma well beyond losses during short periods of time and within small areas along the field lines: the description of high temperature coronal loops thus find a natural explanation. Read the Press Release ...

May 25, 2018 : First light for SPIRou, the exoplanet hunter

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SPIRou, the new spectropolarimeter and planet hunter developed for the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), has successfully collected its first starlight. Ten years after its conception and after four months of intensive installation at the CFHT, this international instrument carried by France will soon be able to begin its scientific missions: the detection of exoplanets around red dwarfs close to the Solar System and the study of stars and newborn planets. The design and construction of SPIRou involved many French laboratories. It was then integrated into IRAP1 (CNRS/CNES/University of Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier) before being delivered to Hawaii. Read the Press Release ...

April 10, 2018 : Solar tornadoes are not tornadoes!

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Against all appearances, the "solar tornadoes" do not turn. This is the conclusion of the work carried out by a team of European researchers including an IRAP astronomer (CNRS & Université Paul Sabatier de Toulouse), and reported on Friday 6 April 2018, at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) conference in Liverpool. Read the Press Release ...

January 8, 2018 : Voyage to the centre of a white dwarf

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A stellar heart that defies predictions: this is what reveals the first mapping of the interior of a white dwarf star by an international team led by Noemi Giammichele, a young researcher from the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie. This breakthrough will allow to better understand the physical mechanisms involved in the evolution of stars and of our Sun. This result is published in the journal Nature on January 8,2018. Read the Press Release ...

June 21, 2017 : Adoption of the PLATO mission by ESA

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The PLATO (Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars) planetary mission proposal aims to discover rocky planets around nearby stars similar to our Sun. Selected by ESA in 2014, the mission was adopted at a meeting of the ESA Scientific Program Committee held on 21 June 2017. This adoption concludes the study phase and gives the go-ahead to the mission completion phase. Consequently, in the forthcoming months, a call for tender will be launched for the supply of the space platform on which the telescopes will be placed. Read the Press Release ...

October 6, 2016 : 61 Cyg A : First observation of a magnetic cycle of solar type

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Astronomers have long wandered whether the characteristics of the Sun make it a particular object, or just a typical star among many others. After nine years of intensive observations, a team of scientists, including researchers of the IRAP (CNRS / Université Paul Sabatier), has discovered the first star whose magnetic field varies like that of the Sun : with an inversion of the polarity when the activity of the star is at its maximum, and with a magnetic geometry which simplifies at the approach to the minimum. This important discovery in the field of stellar physics will also improve the modeling of the processes occurring within the Sun, and lead to better understand the effects of its magnetic activity on Earth as well as on our various technologies. The star studied, 61 Cyg A, is located some eleven light-years from Earth, making it one of the closest neighbours of the Sun. These results show that its magnetic field becomes much more complex before each reversal, opening the way for new advances in the modeling of the processes at work within the Sun. This result is published online on October 6, 2016 in Astronomy & Astrophysics. Read the Press Release ...

June 20, 2016 : A newborn giant planet flying close to its sun

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For the last 20 years, the giant planets known as hot Jupiters have presented astronomers with a puzzle. How did they get into orbits 100 times closer to their host stars than our own Jupiter is to the Sun? An international team of astronomers has announced this week the discovery of a newborn hot Jupiter, orbiting an infant sun only 2 million years old - the stellar equivalent of a week-old human baby. The discovery that hot Jupiters are already present at such an early stage of star-planet formation represents a major step forward in our understanding of how planetary systems form and evolve. Read the Press Release ...

April 21, 2016 : Diffusion of the magnetic field by families of granules on the surface of the sun

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The magnetic network spread accross the Sun and whose characteristic scale is of the order of 20 000 to 30 000 km is generally described as being connected to the "supergranulary" scale. Despite fifty years of efforts to associate this supergranulation to a convective scale, no hard evidence has been provided in this regard. A new approach to this phenomenon has just been proposed by a team of IRAP and LESIA in collaboration with the Lockheed Martin (Palo Alto, USA). Read the Press Release ...

March 16, 2016 : Young Sun-like Star Shows a Magnetic Field Was Critical for Life on the Early Earth

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Nearly four billion years ago, life arose on Earth. Life appeared because our planet had a rocky surface, liquid water, and a blanketing atmosphere. But life thrived thanks to another necessary ingredient: the presence of a protective magnetic field. A new study of the young, Sun-like star Kappa Ceti shows that a magnetic field plays a key role in making a planet conducive to life. Read the Press Release ...

September 9, 2015 : Hot Jupiters courting baby stars ?

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Although first detected 20 years ago, hot Jupiters are still enigmatic bodies. These celestial objects are giant Jupiter-like exoplanets that orbit 20 times closer to their host stars than the Earth does to the Sun. Using the ESPaDOnS spectro-polarimeter on the 3.6m Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) atop Maunakea, a dormant volcano on the big island of Hawaii, an international team of astronomers led by Dr JF Donati (CNRS/INSU, UFTMiP, OMP, IRAP) secured preliminary evidence that hot Jupiters can be generated in as little as a few million years - a timescale equivalent to one week if the 10-billion-year-lifetime of a planetary system were scaled down to a human life. This discovery, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), will help us better understand how planetary systems like (or unlike) the solar system form and evolve into maturity. Read the Press Release ...

June 17, 2015 : Best Observational Evidence of First Generation Stars in the Universe

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Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have discovered by far the brightest galaxy yet found in the early Universe and found strong evidence that examples of the first generation of stars lurk within it. These massive, brilliant, and previously purely theoretical objects were the creators of the first heavy elements in history — the elements necessary to forge the stars around us today, the planets that orbit them, and life as we know it. The newly found galaxy, labelled CR7, is three times brighter than the brightest distant galaxy known up to now. Read the Press Release ...

May 8, 2015 : Discovery of spots on the surface of the intermediate-mass star Vega

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For the first time, an international group of scientists was able to demonstrate the existence of spots on the surface of the intermediate-mass star Vega. This unexpected result places important new constraints on the stellar evolution of intermediate mass stars and in particular on their magnetic field generation mechanisms, opening a window to formerly unreachable information. Two French institutes have contributed to this discovery: the institut de recherche en astrophysique et planétologie (IRAP – CNRS/Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III), who conducted the work, and the institute de planétologie et d’astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG – CNRS/Université Joseph Fourier).  The results are published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics of 6 may 2015.  Read the Press Release ...

January 7, 2014 : First detection of a magnetic field on the surface of a Mira-type star

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An international team of astronomers, including researchers at the IRAP (CNRS / Université Paul Sabatier-Toulouse III) has detected for the first time a magnetic field at the surface of a Mira-type star, the star χ Cygni (in Cygnus). These results, obtained with observations carried out at the Pic du Midi, demonstrate for the first time the existence of a magnetic field on the surface of these pulsating giant stars and shed new light on the important weight loss experienced by these end of life stars. This work is published on January 7, 2014 in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.  Read the Press Release ...

November 5, 2013 : SPIRou : a new instrument dedicated to the discovery of exoEarths and the study of the birth of stars and planets

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The Canada - France - Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) [1] has just confirmed its participation in the financing of the SPIRou instrument (or Infrared SpectroPolarimeter). The missions of this instrument will consist in detecting habitable exoEarths around red dwarf stars, as well as studying the birth of stars and planets. To detect and study these objects, Spirou is composed of a spectropolarimeter [2] combined with a high precision velocimeter optimized for detection by the radial velocity method [3]. SPIRou is an international project led by France.  Read the Press Release ...

October 23, 2013 : CFHT will collaboratively develop the SPIRou instrument proposed by IRAP-OMP

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On this 23rd october 2013, the CFHT (Canada-France-Hawaï Telescope) announced that it will support the buiding of the SPIRou instrument : "CFHT will collaboratively develop the high-resolution near-IR spectro-polarimeter SPIRou as a Guest Instrument. Support will be primarily in the form of providing key components with a total value of approximately $2,000,000."

October 23, 2013 : The destiny of the planetary systems

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What happens to the planetary systems at the death of their star ? Clues can be found in the study of some white dwarfs. An excess in the infrared radiation and the presence of heavy elements in their spectra show the existence of disks of planetary debris around these stars. Small bodies included in these disks are destroyed by tidal effect when their orbit approaches the white dwarf. The material resulting from their disintegration produces the observed infrared radiation and its accretion by the star accounts for the presence of heavy elements on its surface. Read the Press Release ...

June 25, 2013 : Mission accomplished for CoRoT

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After a mission that lasted twice as long as planned, CNES’s CoRoT spacecraft—capable of listening to the music of the heavens and hunting for exoplanets—is to be retired from service. Its remarkable haul of results has enabled scientists to progress from detecting exoplanets to studying them in close detail, while opening a new window into the interior of stars. Read the Press  Release ...

January 10, 2012 : One or more bound planets per Milky Way star from micolensing observations

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Une planète au moins par étoile : c’est le résultat auquel est parvenue une étude présentée par une collaboration internationale d’astronomes. L’analyse statistique, menée par un chercheur de l’Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris (1), a mis en oeuvre une méthode d’observation basée sur l’effet de microlentille gravitationnelle pour mesurer l’abondance des planètes extrasolaires. A partir de six ans d’observations, durant lesquelles plusieurs millions d’étoiles de la Voie Lactée ont été traquées pour détecter plus de trois mille effets de microlentille, les chercheurs ont établi que le nombre de planètes gravitant autour d’autres étoiles que le Soleil était au moins égal au nombre d’étoiles. Les planètes de faible masse (super-Terres et Neptunes, entre 5 et 30 fois la masse de la Terre) seraient également environ sept fois plus abondantes que les planètes géantes de type Jupiter (318 fois la Terre). Ce résultat laisse espérer que de nombreuses planètes cousines de la Terre pourraient exister en nombre et être découvertes dans les années à venir. Cette étude est publiée dans la revue Nature du 12 Janvier 2012. Read the Press Release ...

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