Ilse De Looze - DustOrigin

Description of the PI ilse de looze.pdf.jpg

Ilse De Looze was born in Hamme, Belgium, in 1986. She obtained her bachelor and master degrees in Mathematics, with specialisation in Astronomy at Ghent University in 2007 and 2009, respectively. The start of her PhD education in 2009 at Ghent University coincided with the launch of the Herschel Space Observatory, which led to most of her PhD research projects being focused on analysing far-infrared and sub-millimetre observations obtained with Herschel. She continued her research career in 2012 with a three-year FWO (Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek) post- doctoral fellowship in Ghent, of which the last year was spent at the University of Cambridge.
After two years as a post-doc at University College London, she returned on a FWO fellowship to Ghent University, where she will be appointed as professor in 2020.

Her main research interests include a broad range of (extra-)galactic astronomy topics: dust production in supernova remnants, characterisation of the dust composition in galaxies, low- metallicity galaxies, star formation rate calibrators. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and currently holds an ERC starting grant (DustOrigin) with the aim of studying the origin of interstellar dust in galaxies through cosmic time.



Description of the project

The origin of cosmic dust in galaxies

Cosmic dust grains (i.e., particles built up from heavy elements such as carbon, silicon, magnesium, iron) are responsible for the obscuration of roughly half of the starlight in the Universe. They also play a privileged role in regulating the conditions for future star formation, and can instigate massive flows of galactic material out into the intergalactic medium. So far, we lack the knowledge on how the majority of cosmic dust forms in galaxies, which impedes our understanding of how these galaxies evolve through time. With this ERC project, my group hopes to solve the ``origin of cosmic dust” problem.

Stars, as the engines that produce metals in the Universe, are considered to be an obvious site for dust formation. This ``stardust” is currently thought to be insufficient to account for all cosmic dust in the Universe. The build-up and growth of dust grains from metals available in the space in between the stars in galaxies has been proposed as an alternative dust production channel, but has not (yet) been backed up with a viable chemical formation route. Based on a combination of laboratory tests - which will be conducted at LERMA (Laboratoire d’Etudes du Rayonnement et   de la Matière en Astrophysique et Atmosphères) in Paris, an extensive set of infrared observations and sophisticated dust evolution models, my group will investigate how most cosmic dust is  formed (and destroyed) in galaxies through cosmic time.