Vítor Cardoso, professor of Physics at Técnico and at the Niels Bohr Institute, and a CENTRA member, receives a research grant from the European Research Council (ERC) to lead a new team of top researchers.
Gravitas is the name of the project that aims to explore and discover the potential of black holes and that will bring together researchers of excellence, evaluated by a renowned external panel. The result of another innovative proposal receives, for the third time, funding from the European Research Council (ERC), which will allow him to develop a multidisciplinary work dynamic ready to challenge the understanding of gravity.
This funding is “the only way to keep the best researchers in Lisbon, here in Técnico”, he says. For the physicist, the possibility of the research team work full-time and enter as a researcher in a project of this dimension funded by ERC is very important for the universe of Técnico. “The probability of them getting a job at a renowned institution is extremely high,” he says.
The objectives of the Gravitas project
According to Professor Cardoso, a recognized expert in black hole physics, the first objective of the project is precisely to show the way and prove that what is being seen are effectively black holes. The second (highly ambitious) goal is to test Einstein’s entire theory through measuring and detecting gravitational waves and looking for flaws.
“The theory predicts something very specific. It predicts that the Earth walks around the Sun in a certain way that we tested, but it also predicts that there are regions in black holes where gravity is very, very strong,” he explains. This analysis involves complex forms of mathematical calculations and an in-depth study of the theory.
The third and last goal of the Gravitas project is to “use black holes as a tool,” he points out. “A tool to study the place of the universe where black holes are and that we have no other way to study. And what does that mean? We know that most of the universe is made of matter we don’t know. We call this dark matter, but if the black holes are out there and they are in pairs colliding with each other, they are somehow feeling the effect of this matter.”
This is a project that provides to significantly mark the career of the professor of physics and researcher of the Center for Astrophysics and Gravitation (CENTRA),which already has 13 years of work and research at Técnico, and will host this new research project for a period of 5 years.
In this edition of the ERC Advanced Grants 2021, a total of 1.735 proposals were presented divided into three categories: Physical Sciences and Engineering, Social and Human Sciences and Life Sciences, distributed by 21 countries and 28 nationalities. 253 proposals from renowned researchers across Europe have been selected.