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NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill 

What's inside a giant planet? Yamila Miguel will find out with an ERC Consolidator Grant

Discovering what is inside giant planets and their atmosphere, that is one of the goals of astronomer Yamila Miguel. With an ERC Consolidator Grant of 2 million euro, she will study giant planets both inside and outside our solar system. ‘We want to know more about how planetary systems are born, how planets form and how they evolve. All that information is inside the planet itself.’

Miguel was so excited when she got the results of the grant that she put down work and went home to celebrate. ‘I was super crazy about it. It was really great!’ She can’t wait to learn more about the interior of planets with the  N-GINE Project. ‘We want to know more on how planets work. Especially on the giant ones, such as Jupiter and Saturn, we still know very little.’

Another reason that makes researching giants so interesting to look at, is that they are the first ones to be born in a solar system. ‘That means they have crucial information on how the solar system was at its very beginning.’ By studying the interior of a planet, its atmosphere and the interaction between these two, she hopes to learn more about the origins, formation and evolution of solar systems.

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Results of the JWST

In order to study the planets, she will use data from multiple instruments. ‘For the research into Jupiter and Saturn, I will use the data from the Cassini and Juno missions. To study exoplanets, JWST has very detailed data.’ Miguel already has some of the data from the telescope, but hopes to obtain more in the future. ‘JWST has four instruments. You can submit proposals to do observations with the different ones. I will be using all of them if I can, but first let’s see what is possible.’

Yamila is very excited to work with the new data. ‘Before JWST, we had other telescopes such as the Hubble and Spitzer, but they were not built for exoplanet research and were not as accurate. JWST gives us the opportunity to look at things that  we have never been able to research before. It is amazing that we can learn about the exoplanets’ details.’

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