University Donations | 26 million for astrophysics research

A $26 million grant will be announced this Monday for astrophysics research at the University of Montreal. This is the largest donation in history in this field to the Universities of Montreal (UdeM) and McGill.

“The Trottier Family Foundation was already funding us, but for a much smaller amount and for a shorter period of time,” explains René Doyon, director of the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) at UdeM, which receives a grant of 10 Millions of dollars. . “Now more than 10 years have passed. The stability of this funding will allow us to seek out the best scientists in the field. »


René Doyon, director of the Institute for Research on Exoplanets

The McGill Space Institute will use half of the $16 million pledged over 10 years to build a new building on University Street, which will be connected to the current one by a pedestrian bridge. “We have many collaborations with other universities and we want to attract more researchers, so we need more workspace,” says Victoria Kaspi, director of the Institute.

mmyself Kaspi did the interview from Boston, where he was meeting with partners at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), specifically to discuss the CHIME radio telescope his team operates. It is a British Columbia radio telescope inaugurated in 2017 and made up of 1000 antennas. The “Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment” helps to better understand the mysterious “fast radio bursts” (FRBs), very high-energy emissions that last only a few milliseconds. The first FRB was not detected until 2007.

The iREx will be renamed the Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets and the McGill Space Institute will add Trottier to its name.

Philanthropist with a passion for science

Philanthropist Lorne Trottier, co-founder of graphics card company Matrox, had a passion for science from a young age. “When I was 11, I went to a friend who had an older brother who was a fan of amateur radio,” says Mr. Trottier. He has spoken to people all over the planet. He fascinated me. I went to read all I could at the public library. It was a Jewish public library then located on the Boulevard Mont-Royal: Mr. Trottier’s father was Franco-Ontarian and his mother was Jewish.


Lorne Trotier

When did you have your first contact with space? With the launch of Sputnik in 1957? “I was 10, so I wasn’t interested in science yet. But after that I followed up with spaceflight. I remember Alan Shepard’s flight in May 1961.”

Several multi-millionaires plan a space trip with companies like Virgin Galactic or Blue Origin. Is Mr. Trottier interested? “I have nothing against it. But I’d rather fund research here than go into space myself. »

Some of McGill’s discoveries…

  • In 2020 a Naturethe first evidence that magnetars, end-of-life stars that have collapsed on themselves and acquired a very high magnetic field, are probably the source of fast radio bursts, thanks to CHIME
  • In 2019, in Letters from the astronomical diarypart of an international effort, first image of a black hole thanks to a network of telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope

… and UdeM

  • In 2019, inAstronomical Journalfirst detection of liquid water on an exoplanet located in the habitable zone of its solar system
  • In 2022, inAstronomical Journaldetection of a water-covered “ocean planet”, potentially the first of its kind

Learn more

  • 60
    Number of researchers recruited by the Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets at UdM since its foundation in 2014

    source: irex

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