Research in Astrophysics and Cosmology
On the largest scales, we are very active in experimental cosmology.
In the past 20 years, our group has been playing a major role in ESA’s PLANCK satellite, successfully launched in 2009. We are currently analyzing the data, which promise to achieve unprecedented precision in cosmological parameters and to address a wide range of topics in mm-wave astrophysics. We are also planning new balloon-borne CMB experiment the Large Scale Polarization Explorer, to be launched in 2014. In addition, we are investigating the use of microwave technology for socially useful applications (such as medicine, communications) in collaboration with other research groups and with hi-tech industrial partners. (See http://cosmo.fisica.unimi.it/)
To understand the formation and evolution of cosmic structures, different physical processes related to the interaction of dark and baryonic matter must be considered. Galaxies coevolve with supermassive black holes in their centers. The dynamics of stellar systems must then be studied together with the accretion mechanisms onto their central black holes. In this general context, gravitational lensing provides important diagnostics. Stellar dynamics, accretion, and gravitational lensing are all topics studied by our group, also by means of complex numerical simulations, with significant participation in ESA’s forthcoming mission EUCLID.
On smaller scales, with the advent of new telescopes at long wavelengths (HERSCHEL and ALMA) we can now examine the processes that lead to the formation of stars and planets. It is now established that planet formation is widespread in the Galaxy. In this research area, we are studying the structure of molecular clouds (the sites where stars are born) and the dynamics of protostellar discs, where planet formation takes place (mostly from a theoretical viewpoint). We are also studying the fate of massive stars, as they collapse into compact objects, such as neutron stars. (See http://astro.fisica.unimi.it/)