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Space researchers use exoplanets - steiermark.ORF.at

Space researchers use exoplanets – steiermark.ORF.at

Science

The Graz Institute for Space Research (IWF) has been under the new administration since the beginning of October. In the future, there will be more research on the so-called exoplanets, that is, planets outside the solar system.

At the Graz Institute for Space Research, the alteration at the top has finally been completed. Longtime director Wolfgang Baumjohan said goodbye to retirement. His successor, astrophysicist Christian Helling, has been in office since the beginning of October – more on this in New Director of Space Research appointed to OeAW (21.7.2021).

On the way to creating the universe

The new director would like to devote herself more to research on the so-called exoplanets. These are the planets that revolve around the sun – or other giant planets and are as similar to Earth as possible, explains Christian Helling: “Well, exoplanets are first and foremost the planets outside the solar system and we currently know more than 4,000 – but there is a huge variety of these that You need to investigate.”

The scientist is interested in the question of which physical processes and which processes generally lead to our survival, says Helling: “So we’re basically looking to understand our origins. So how did the universe come about? How did the first galaxies arise? On this planet? Yes, and Graz and the IMF is the perfect place to do just that.”

Strengthening international cooperation

From the Rosetta mission, the first controlled landing on a comet, to various missions to planets in our solar system, the Graz Institute for Space Research has so far been a trusted partner of the European Space Committee (ESA) and often also a partner project.

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The new director would like to maintain and enhance this international cooperation: “Sure, the institute has a great international standing. It has built an incredible store of knowledge in the field of solar system research. Which we naturally want to keep building. We will expand to the outer planets, but there Lots of unanswered questions regarding the solar system.”