More research! FONDECYT Regular!
It is the first time that this important project obtains own funding, normally I work on it under the argument "it is useful for this other great project". It turns out, this project is great too!
This is what we'll do in the next 4 years:
Embracing the next revolution of Gaia with its very recent third data release (Gaia DR3) on 13 of June of 2022, we are are soon to witness how the secrets about stars and the Milky Way will be revealed. It is evident that understanding the physics of these secrets will be possible only if the Gaia DR3 data and its complementary ground based data are carefully and systematically calibrated and standardised against well-known stars. That tedious but obvious work can not be taken for granted; someone has to do it.
We plan to take leadership of a specific task in this challenge, namely setting an absolute scale in the astrophysical parameters and chemical abundances determined from FGK-type spectra. To do so, we will climb four rungs in the reference ladder; starting with the most fundamental reference stars (the Gaia benchmark stars; moving to the validation stars of the Milky Way Mapper of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey; to then connect and standardise through common stars between the next generation of high resolution spectroscopic surveys; and finish with the next Golden Sample of Gaia DR4 and the first benchmark stars for PLATO.
The PI (me!) has years of leadership in this topic, reflected through the Annual Review in Astronomy and Astrophysics entitled “Accuracy and Precision of Industrial Stellar Abundances” published in 2019 and her role as Co-lead of the Working Group “Abundances” in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The PI has therefore established an international network to ensure the success of this project. The Co-I (Claudia Aguilera), on the other hand, is an emerging leader in Chile on stellar astrophysics, who is transitioning to a faculty position by bringing unique expertise both from the observational and the theoretical perspective into the Chilean community. This project will significantly increase her visibility both in Chile and abroad as well as establish the leading role of the PI in Galactic astronomy worldwide. Together we propose to train younger researchers and students with the skills of stellar spectroscopy, which have become central in the Gaia era, and take a key role in the process of standardising the astrophysical properties of millions of stars.
We are confident of the high impact of this work. Reference stars are widely used. Even if the work might seen as silent, it can achieve significant public interest thought its importance as well through its unusual high female rate contribution. Women in science are still poorly visible, so we plan to take advantage of the already published outreach book entitled “Fosiles del cosmos”, which discusses the state-of-the-art of Gaia science including reference stars as important first step, to keep communicating the Gaia science through its social media profile (@nucleomilenioeris) as well as its website (https://fosilesdelcosmos.cl) with new interviews, Gaia stories, editions and interviews of more female scientists. This grant will support significant progress within the solid framework its importance deserves.