17.07.2020 change 17.07.2020

Dr. Przemysław Mróz awarded the Frank Wilczek Award of the Jagiellonian University and the Kościuszko Foundation

Dr Przemysław Mróz (credit: FNP) Dr Przemysław Mróz (credit: FNP)

Dr. Przemysław Mróz has been announced the first laureate of the new Frank Wilczek Award. The prize was established to recognize outstanding young researchers who have made a significant contribution to physics, astronomy or closely related areas. The award patron – Professor Frank Wilczek, physicist from the Massachusets Insitute of Technology – is the laureate of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics . The Award is funded by the Jagiellonian University and the Kościuszko Foundation. Dr. Przemysław Mróz has been awarded for the scientific achievement entitled: Free-floating planets – a new category of exoplanets.

Free-floating (rogue) planets (FFPs) are the extrasolar planets that are not gravitationally bound with their original host stars. They are directly orbiting the Galaxy and constitute a dark, very difficult to detect component of the Milky Way. It is commonly accepted that the FFPs are born in classical exoplanetary systems. Due to the gravitational interactions during the system formation a part of newly born exoplanets can be ejected out of the system.

Free-floating planets arouse a wide interest of the world astronomical community. For example, it was proposed that the mysterious, non-discovered yet, additional planet in the Solar System (Planet-9) could be a FFP captured by the Sun. Recent, exciting discoveries of the first objects arriving to the Solar System from interstellar space: free-floating asteroid (Oumuamua) and free-floating comet (2I/Borisov) make the field of dark free-floating objects in the Milky Way extremely attractive.

Astronomical knowledge on the FFPs was considerably deepened thanks to the revolutionary works and studies conducted during the last years by dr. Przemysław Mróz. The characterization of the FFP population in the Milky Way and the detection of the most promising candidates for FFPs are the extremely impressive scientific results which will shape the astronomical knowledge in this field for decades. This is one of the most important achievements of the Polish astronomy in the recent years.

Dr Mróz demonstrated, among other results, that Jupiter-mass free-floating planets are much less common than previously claimed and predicted a numerous population of low-mass free floating planets [https://www.uw.edu.pl/planety-podobne-do-ziemi/]. He also discovered a few ultra-short gravitational microlensing events that are likely caused by Earth- and super-Earth-mass rogue planets [https://www.uw.edu.pl/dwie-nowe-planety-swobodne/]. The findings were published in four papers in the most prestigious peer-reviewed journals (including Nature) and made a significant impact on the astronomical community. They have been cited over 160 times as of now.

More information can be found here: https://fw-prize.fais.uj.edu.pl/en_GB/

Information from the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Warsaw.

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