Stefano Carniani, of the SNS Cosmology and Astrophysics Group, has secured 1 million 200 thousand euros in the form of an ERC Starting Grant, with a scientific project aiming to study the winds emitted by super-massive black holes, aided by the future observations of James Webb Space Telescope.

PISA, 11 JANUARY 2022. Stefano Carniani, a researcher of the SNS Cosmology and Astrophysics Group, co-ordinated by Professor Andrea Ferrara, has won an ERC Starting Grant, one of the most competitive European Union prizes destined for young researchers, with the scientific project “WINGS” (WINds in GalaxieS)”, with funding of around 1,200,000 euros.

The project has the aim of studying the outflows of gas and dust, generally known as galactic winds, that are generated by the energy released by super-massive black holes at the centre of galaxies.

The project will be making use of data obtained from various observational programmes carried out with the most advanced telescopes currently available, including the James Webb Space Telescope, which was launched on 25 December of last year with an international collaboration involving NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and the observation programme of which the Scuola Normale Superiore is a participant.

The galactic winds produced by super-massive black holes can reach speeds so high (over 1000 km/s, equivalent to about 4 million kilometres per hour) as to disperse the gas and dust on scales much greater than those of the galaxy itself. In recent years, various theoretical models and cosmological simulations have shown that these flows of matter play a fundamental role in the evolutive process of the host galaxy and in that of the super-massive black hole that generated them. All the same, from the experimental/observational point of view the importance of these phenomena is still a matter of debate.

The WINGS project will clarify the impact on the galaxies of the galactic winds produced by the process of growth of the super-massive black holes, leading to a greater understanding of the mechanisms that determine the evolution of the universe.


Carniani is one of the 397 young researchers, 58 of them Italian, who have won this round of the ERC Starting Grant, and who in the space of 5 years will complete their research project within the host institution. The work group to be formed will consist of 5 researchers.


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