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Physics of gravitation and cosmology with high precision space astrometry

The improvement of the precision in the verification of General Relativity (GR) is of crucial importance for fundamental physics, having a cosmological and astrophysical impact on all scales. In fact, the study of the evolution of the Universe covering a timescale of 60 orders of magnitude, from the primordial to the present, depends essentially on the understanding of gravitational interaction, most reliably interpreted through General Relativity. The most used theoretical instrument to compare these theories on a local scale is the parameterized post Newtonian (PPN), in which each theory is characterised by precise assumed values from a parameter set estimated from experiments. Amongst these parameters, , (related to the curvature of space-time induced by mass) is the most studied, and also the most accessible via astrometric measurements. The estimation of this parameter allows tight constraints to be placed also on alternative formalisms that can appreciably modify the current estimate of the mass/dark energy ratio. In this sense the measurement of the parameter can be considered a powerful cosmological test using local measurements.

It is predicted that the GAIA mission can reach an accuracy of 10-6 for at the 3-sigma level, for nominal performance, by measuring the temporal evolution of the positions of a billion objects all over the celestial sphere. The numerical verifications and the relevant parts of the code are under development under an Agenzia Spaziale Italiana contract, coordinated with the activity of the European consortium DPAC (Data Processing and Analysis Consortium) for the reduction of GAIA data.

An INAF study provides new assumptions on oscillation in star layers

Mar 21, 2017

An INAF study provides new assumptions on oscillation in star layers A team of researchers led by Enrico Corsaro, fellow of the AstroFIt2 programme at INAF in Catania, has recently published a study in Nature Astronomy which shows the relationship between the orientation of the stellar-spin axis and the environment where they formed.

INAF researchers participate in the discovery of two Super Earths

Mar 21, 2017

INAF researchers participate in the discovery of two Super Earths Two massive rocky planets 21 light-years from us, the closest known among those transiting in front of their parent star, have been detected and studied thanks to TNG Galileo National Telescope observations.

Risparmio e vedo il cielo. INAF joins the “M’illumino di meno” campaign

Feb 26, 2017

Risparmio e vedo il cielo. INAF joins the “M’illumino di meno” campaign On 24 February, on the occasion of the Energy Saving Day 2017, the National Institute for Astrophysics – INAF has joined the M’illumino di Meno campaign launched by Radio Rai 2 show Caterpillar, now in its thirteenth year, which renews the invitation to turn off the lights in squares, private and public lightings across Italy.