Astrophysics and Space Physics
The section of Astrophysics and Space Physics comprises of Drs. V. Charmandaris, C.
Haldoupis, N. Kylafis, I. Papadakis, J. Papamastorakis, V. Pavlidou, K. Tassis, I. Vardavas, J. Ventura, and A. Zezas, as faculty,
Drs. D. Blinov, L. Ciesla, F. Mavromatakis, E. Paleologou, P. Reig, and E. Vardoulaki as associated scientists,
as well as a number of graduate students.
Research in Astrophysics and Space Physics in Crete is both
theoretical and observational and covers a broad range of subjects,
ranging from studies of the Earth's atmosphere and ionosphere, to the
study of distant galaxies. Within our Solar System, research is
concentrated on the evolution of planetary atmospheres. Within our
Galaxy, white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes, planetary nebulae,
supernova remnants, globular clusters, and RR-Lyrae variable stars are
studied. Beyond our Galaxy, areas of investigation include the star
formation history and evolution of galaxies in the Local Group, the
dust distribution and infrared properties of spiral, starburst and
ultraluminous infrared galaxies, astronomical MASERs, jets and other
exotic phenomena in active galactic nuclei and quasars.
The datasets used for our research are obtained from a variety of
ground based optical telescopes including Skinakas Observatory,
radio telescopes and radars. Space-borne facilities, such as the Hubble Space Telescope in the
optical, ROSAT, RXTE, CHANDRA, and XMM in the X-rays, and ISO,
Spitzer and Herschel in the infrared are also being used. Several
earth-observation satellites (Meteosat, etc) also provide a wealth of
remote sensing data.
Locally, the research activities of the section are mainly
supported by the Skinakas
Observatory, the Laboratory for Environmental Research (at FORTH),
and the Laboratory for Ionospheric Physics.
The scientific impact of the section of Astrophysics and Space
Physics, as quantified by the number of publications in international
refereed journals, is approximately 30 publications per year. The
annual report of the section is available online, as a PDF file, for
the calendar years
as well as
A brief description of some of the research projects underway
Research in Theoretical Astrophysics includes:
- Study of the physics of strong magnetic fields in stellar
objects, such as pulsars, and neutron stars.
- Study of radiative processes, radiative transport and formation of
spectral features in white dwarfs, neutron stars and pulsars.
- Study of accretion phenomena onto neutron stars and black holes in
binary stellar systems.
- Investigation of gamma-ray burst sources.
- Modeling of astronomical objects and transfer of radiation of all
wavelengths in various astronomical environments. Specific objects of
research are: X-ray sources (white dwarfs, neutron stars, black
holes), Astronomical MASERs, Spiral galaxies.
Research in ionospheric physics includes:
- The investigation of coherent radio wave backscatter phenomena
from magnetic aspect-sensitive electrostatic plasma waves in the lower
- Operation of HF (Valensole system in South France) and VHF (SESCAT
system in Crete) Doppler radars at mid-latitude for high resolution
ionospheric backscatter Doppler measurements.
- Experimental and theoretical study of plasma instability
mechanisms and electrodynamics in the mid-latitude E region
ionosphere, in the presence of sporadic Es layers and atmospheric
- Ionospheric auroral zone plasma studies of coherent and incoherent
scatter phenomena using the European Incoherent Scatter radar.
- Wind potential and turbulence studies and applied research on wind
energy problems using wind measurements and mass-consistent
Research in Earth's and planetary atmospheres
studies of the evolution of the atmosphere and the Earth and various
planets of our Solar System using computer simulation models of
atmospheric composition, radiation field and thermal structure. These
models generate the vertical structure of the atmosphere's temperature
and the concentrations of its molecular constituents. The research
- The evolution of the earth's climate in relation to solar and
- The structure and evolution of the atmospheres of Titan and
- The calculation of the energy budget of the Earth's
- Climate change studies.
- Sustainable water resource exploitation, in particular in Crete
and the Mediterranean Basin.
Research in Observational Astrophysics includes:
- Study of the interaction of tails of comets with the solar
- Study of the morphology and chemical composition of Supernova
Remnants and Planetary Nebulae (using observations through narrow band
interference filters and spectrophotometry), with the aim of better
understanding the emission processes and the last stages of stellar
evolution (e.g., detection of extended halos in planetary nebulae
resulting from stellar winds).
- Spectroscopic study of properties and composition of specific
classes of asymptotic giant branch stars.
- Study of X-ray binary systems, consisting of a compact object
orbiting a normal star.
- Study of galactic globular clusters with the purpose of better
determining their ages and distances (using RR-Lyrae variables), as
well as of investigating in detail various stages in stellar
- Study of the star formation history, chemical evolution, and
dynamics of Local Group Galaxies, including the Magellenic Clouds, and
the dwarf spheroidals (Carina, Sculptor, Fornax).
- Study of the optical properties of Active Galactic Nuclei
- Study of the the X-ray emission properties of Active Galactic
Nuclei (both their energy spectrum and their variability
porties). Study of the optical band variability poperties of both radio-loud AGN
(ie BL-Lacs) and radio-quiet AGN (such as Seyfert 1s and high redshift
quasars) with the aim of better understanding the physical mechanism
of their variability.
- Study of the distribution of dust in spiral galaxies, with the
ultimate purpose of understanding star formation processes and
- Study of the infrared properties of ultraluminous infrared
galaxies, staruburst, and AGN, in order to understand the physics of
the dominant mechanism for the energy production in their nuclei.
- Studying the effects of the enviroment in the evolution of galaxies
- Study of the cosmological implications of distant normal and
infrared luminous galaxies based on their infrared properties and the
observed number counts in deep surveys.
The dedicated web page of the Crete Astrophysics Group can be found here.
Last Update: 29/03/2013 13:41:04
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Crete, Department of Physics,