Professor Johan Fynbo from DAWN receives grant from DFF for his quasar research

27. May 2021

The extreme brightness of quasars and their characteristic bluish colors make them easy to detect, but large amounts of dust make them seem red and causes us to “miss” them. Professor Johan Fynbo from the Center of Excellence DAWN at the University of Copenhagen and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) wants to avoid this and will use his grant to work on a new way to detect quasars.

Professor Johan Fynbo.
Professor Johan Fynbo. Photo: Carlsberg Foundation.

Professor Johan Fynbo from the Center of Excellence DAWN at the University of Copenhagen and DTU has been awarded a grant from the Independent Research Fund Denmark that will be used to work on a new method to detect and discover quasars. The extremely bright quasars might appear red when large amounts of dust from their own or other galaxies are present, which means researchers cannot see their characteristic brightness and bluish color.

This dust, which makes the quasars red and “invisible” on radar, might lead us to miss them, biasing our understanding of quasars. Professor Fynbo wants to use a new, promising method offered by the European Space Agency through the use of its spacecraft Gaia.

A new, promising method

The spacecraft Gaia has measured the positions of one billion objects in the sky, which means it is able to determine their motion. While stars slowly move their positions, quasars appear so distant to us that they seem to stay in the same position. Using this more promising method might help to detect and discover quasars in a new way.

The Independent Research Fund Denmark has awarded a total of 191 grants for new research projects.  Among other things, Professor Fynbo will use his grant to hire a Ph.D. student.

You can read more about Professor Fynbo’s grant here

More information about DAWN here