Severo Ochoa Programme

Strategic value


The IAC's Severo Ochoa Program seeks excellence in science to strengthen and consolidate the IAC position as an astrophysical research center of international renown.

The Program involves scientific exploration and discovery through the use of major world facilities (like the GTC), advanced modeling methods and innovative technologies and techniques for ground/space observations. Together, these, foster the generation of new knowledge in key areas of astrophysics with impact on fundamental physics, chemistry and geophysics.

In particular, the program will allow us:

  1. To target fundamental understanding of the physics of the Sun to test magnetic fields in stellar plasmas. Its (often violent) activity has a direct impact on our technological society. It addresses the relation between solar radiation and Earth´s atmosphere and cloudiness, vital for the interpretation of our present climate, of its evolutionary path and the genesis of life in our planet. Albedo variations on large timescales present a fundamental challenge to our understanding, and projection abilities of the Earth’s climate.
  2. The discovery of other worlds like ours, which could potentially harbour life. Such a discovery will have both, deep scientific and societal implications.
  3. Exoplanet characterization addresses profound questions: Are we alone in the Universe? And what do the ‘other worlds’ look like? Also, it is a major driver for the definition of large instrumentation projects, both on Earth and in space.
  4. Impact on fundamental physics may result from: a) detection of time variations of the non-zero vacuum density via studies of the large scale structure of the Universe (BOSS, Euclid) whose direct mapping of spacetime traces the dominant form of energy in the Universe, its nature is one of the most exciting questions in physical sciences; b) the detection of an anomalous composition of the cosmic-rays using AMS; are there new forms of antimatter?; c) the detection of B-modes in the polarization of the CMB (Planck, QUIJOTE) which would imply the existence of primordial gravitational waves in the Early Universe and an energy scale of Inflation in the domain of Grand Unified Theories; d) the discovery of new black hole binary systems can test General Relativity in the regime of strong gravity fields.

The Program finally aims to captivate people’s imagination, inspire teachers, encourage scientific vocation in students, motivate talented graduates to enter the field, increase international cooperation, stimulate the industrial and technological environment, and excite the general public about science.