Planets, stars and galaxies as components of the universe

This key research area encompasses the combined examination of planets, stars and galaxies, as their individual components are interrelated. After surveying the cosmic components, the question of the physical and chemical processes involved in the formation and evolution of galaxies, stars and planets is of particular relevance. The relevant physical parameters and conditions, such as the size, shape, composition, and dynamics of galaxies, stars, gas and dust, are measured and derived from the observation of light over the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

For this purpose, the large telescopes of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and high-performance ESA and NASA satellites are used, as well as UniBRITE, Austria’s first satellite. The links between empirical results and modelling, and especially the chronological sequences of processes of various kinds, are studied by means of numerical simulations on high-performance computers – for instance, at the Vienna Scientific Cluster. The combination of observation, theory, numerical data, and instrumentation forms the basis for fundamental insights into key processes in the universe including the existence of Earth and thus conditions for life.