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MEMO/11/237

Brussels, 12 April 2011

EU Marie Curie researcher discovers galaxy 13 billion light years away

A team of astronomers led by Johan Richard, a 31-year-old French researcher supported by the EU Marie Curie fund, has discovered a galaxy 13 billion light years away from Earth. The discovery of the star formation, which was created 200 million years after the 'Big Bang', will help astronomers better understand the evolution of galaxies closer to the earth, which may have affected the planet's climate. It could also help solve the scientific mystery of how the hydrogen fog that filled the early Universe was cleared.

Richard started his research whilst a Marie Curie fellow at Durham University in the UK, in 2008-2010. The discovery of the galaxy was made at the Dark Cosmology Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark, using the Hubble Space Telescope, a joint project between the European Space Agency and NASA.

Dr Richard is now based at the Centre for Astronomy Research at the University of Lyon in France. The other members of his team were:

Dr Jean-Paul Kneib (FR), based at Marseille's Laboratoire d’Astrophysique

Dr Harald Ebeling (DE), University of Hawaii

Dr Daniel Stark (US), Cambridge University, UK

Dr Eiichi Egami (Japan), University of Arizona

Dr Andrew Fiedler (US), University of Arizona

Dr Richard said the Marie Curie funding was vital in setting him on the path to the discovery. "The Marie Curie Actions bring great opportunities for scientific independence - a must if we are looking for exciting discoveries to happen," he commented.

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for the Marie Curie fund, said: "This discovery represents a milestone in modern astronomy research and once again demonstrates our commitment to supporting pioneering study and mobility among the best European and international scientists."

To find out more: http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1106

Background

The EU's Marie Curie Actions provide grants at all career stages from post-graduate level to encourage international mobility among Europe's best researchers. The EU will allocate more than €4.5 billion under the scheme between 2007 and 2013.

A total of 50,000 researchers have been supported by the 'Marie Curie Actions' since 1996. Nearly 5 000 researchers applied for EU-funded Marie Curie fellowship grants in 2010, an increase of 20% on the previous year.

The Marie Curie Actions play a key role in the 'European Research Area'. They are managed by the Research Executive Agency (REA), a funding body created by the EU to manage parts of the European Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7), one of the pillars of the Europe 2020 strategy for sustainable and inclusive growth.

EU Marie Curie Actions: http://ec.europa.eu/mariecurieactions/

EU 2020 Strategy: http://ec.europa.eu/eu2020/index_en.htm

FP7: http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/home_en.html

REA: http://ec.europa.eu/research/rea/


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