Karin Lind
Karin Lind, Department of Astronomy. Photo: Markus Marcetic © Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse/Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien.

“The objective is to create an image of how the Milky Way developed in its childhood. What was the mass of the first stars and how did they end their lives? How did the Milky Way assemble from smaller building blocks? And what was the process through which chemical elements were enriched?” says Karin Lind, Department of Astronomy, Stockholm University.

Thanks to new telescopic and spectroscopic technologies, it is now possible to study the oldest stars in the Milky Way, which are many billions of years old. They were formed a few hundred million years after the Big Bang and contain few metals, because many elements had not yet been created when they were born.

To analyze the radiation and the spectrum of these early stars, Karin Lind has, during her time at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, developed a unique, advanced computer model. At Stockholm University she will now use this model to perform an archaeological study of the galaxy’s early history. She will analyze the chemical composition of the atmosphere around millions of stars that were born at different times in different parts of the Milky Way. She will also investigate how old they are and how they move around the center of the Milky Way.

“I am newly established here at Stockholm University. Thanks to my Wallenberg Academy Fellowship I’m able to start a new – big – research group within the field of star spectroscopy, a field that hasn’t been so developed here before. The grant means that I can have a long-term perspective and set more ambitious goals for my research,” Karin Lind says.