Montreal in the heart of space research

directrice-institut-spatial-mcgill-victoriaMontreal could become a center for space research through the inauguration, last week, the new McGill Space Institute (ISM).

That at least is the wish astrophysicist Victoria Kaspi, who directs the ISM.

She hopes to attract world-class researchers in the metropolis already home to the Canadian Space Agency and another center of academic research, the Research Institute on exoplanets from the University of Montreal (IREX).

The new center will host McGill researchers in astrophysics, cosmology, planetary science and astrobiology, which will create interdisciplinary collaborations that could help unravel some mysteries of the evolution of the universe, gravity or the extraterrestrial life.

The research center also has an outreach component that will allow the public to discover astronomy through the AstroMcGill program.

“My goal is to develop a world-class field at McGill, and Montreal in general, consolidating the resources we already have and attracting new intellectual resources,” she said.

“Just to have a world-class setting where there is a hub of activity, excitement and new ideas. That’s what I dream about, “said Kaspi.

One of the attractions of the Institute will be what Kaspi called “one of the most promising areas of science”: the study of exoplanets, these planets located outside the solar system.

An “explosion of discoveries” concerning these extrasolar planets has occurred in recent years.

The McGill scientists work including working with their counterparts from the University of Montreal to study the properties, climates and structures of these planets orbiting a star other than the sun.

Other researchers, such as Professor Matt Dobbs physics, develop new technologies and instruments to create ever more powerful telescopes.

Teams from McGill, the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto also working on the new telescope CHIME (Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment Canadian hydrogen or mapping experience).

In recent years, Canada has become a key leader in the space research area, says Dobbs.

He was convinced that Montreal will soon become a hub in the area.

“Now, Canada realizes that we have the expertise here, we have ideas, sometimes we have the funding and leadership to do research here in Canada,” he mentioned.

“Maybe the telescopes we build here in Canada will be the best in the world.”

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