Max Planck Partner Group starts work in Brazil

Close cooperation between the Albert Einstein Institute and the Federal University of ABC in Santo André.

May 27, 2010

The Max Planck Society together with the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) has established a Partner Group on “Astrophysics of compact stars” that will be funded yearly with 20,000 euros and is set to commence work as of 1 June. The head of the new Partner Group is Prof. Cecilia Chirenti.

Young Brazilian scientist Cecilia Chirenti was a researcher in Bernard Schutz’ Astrophysical Relativity Department at the Albert Einstein Institute from September 2007 to July 2009.  Her particular focus was numerical simulations of neutron stars and the calculation of gravitational waves. The Max Planck Society has now established a Partner Group at the University in Santo André in Brazil where Dr. Chirenti has been teaching as an assistant professor since February 2009. Over an initial period of three years, the cooperation with the Numerical Relativity Group headed by Prof. Luciano Rezzolla at the AEI will be funded yearly with 20,000 euros. Subsequently, a further two-year funding period is possible. The aim of the cooperation is, among other things, the computation of gravitational waves emitted by neutron stars.

Cecilia Chirenti is very enthusiastic: “I am very pleased about this successful undertaking! In Brazil, there is a very active community of scientists in the area of gravitational waves. There is also large number of young, dynamic researchers who would like to work with the AEI!”

The Brazilian National Institute for Space Research operates its own gravitational wave detector, a spherical resonant detector. Scientists from both countries - Brazil and Germany - have already made significant contributions to research in these areas. This partnership will now be strengthened through the establishment of the Max Planck Partner Group.

Luciano Rezzolla adds: “Neutron stars are among the most fascinating objects in our universe. They are almost as compact as black holes, but consist of ‘normal’ matter, but under extreme conditions that we cannot generate here on Earth. Neutron stars are the cause of energy-rich explosions in space, and by studying them we can learn a lot about the fundamentals of particle physics and about gravity.”

The new Research Group in Brazil is, in addition to Partner Groups in Argentina and India, already the Institute’s third.

Dr. Cecilia Chirenti (born 1982) studied physics at the University of Sao Paolo, where she also completed her PhD thesis in 2007. She then spent two years as a postdoc at the AEI in the Numerical Relativity Group. During this time, she was supported for a year through a scholarship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

She has held the position of assistant professor at the Federal University of ABC in Santo André, Brazil since February 2009. Here, at the ‘Center for Mathematics, Computation and Cognition’, is where her Max Planck Partner Group will be set up.

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