I arrived in Leeds on 1st September looking forward to start this STARRY project I heard about for the first time six months before. I did not believe when, in March 2016, Professor Rene Oudmaijer wrote me with the great news that I was accepted in the project. Now that I have been working for a month here I could not be happier. My first impression about Leeds was heartwarming, the University campus is friendly and the installations are excellent. More importantly, the human quality of the University is amazing, from the professors and staff to my Ph.D. colleagues and students around campus. I am really enjoying my daily life which is quite important for a constant and focused research.
Talking about the project, it is exciting that I am starting my Ph.D. working on the new Gaia data that have just been released (14th September) to the whole scientific community. The Gaia project is expected to give important information about one billion stars when finished in 2022, although this first data release just covers a small fraction of that number. The novelty in the information that Gaia gives is the distances and proper motions of the stars with such an accuracy and completeness that the Gaia catalogue will bring lots of unexpected discoveries in the next years. This project is focused on Herbig Ae/Be stars. They are stars with intermediate mass still undergoing the formation process of which we know a lot but too little as it often happens in science. The distances and proper motions to these stars have never been observed as good as it is going to be done with Gaia and our aim is to use this new data to go over new scientific paths that were inaccessible before.
Being a bit intimidated about the huge amount of work to be done, questions to answer and unknowns to resolve, I am highly motivated to go through all the steps of this big scientific project that we have between our hands. Big outcomes are about to come and after this first month I feel ready for it.