Dr. rer. nat. Wolfgang Gieren
Wolfgang Gieren´s research focuses on the calibration of the extragalactic distance scale mostly using stellar distance indicators, such as Cepheid variables, eclipsing binaries, red giants and blue supergiant stars. He is, together with Dr. Grzegorz Pietrzynski of the Copernicus Astronomical Center in Warsaw, the principal investigator of the Araucaria Project which has been one of the most productive projects in the distance scale area worldwide over the past 15 years. He is a leading expert on the Baade-Wesselink method to determine the distances of pulsating stars, and involved in a project to use Gaia parallaxes to improve this method to yield extremely accurate distances to Cepheid stars.
After more than 10 years of research, the team was able to determine as accurately as possible so far the distance between the Milky Way and the Large Magellanic Cloud, thereby improving the calibration of the cosmic distance scale in the local Universe. It was possible to determine the distance to the nearest galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, with 1% precision, something never ever achieved and a great achievement for the world of astronomy
Gieren is also actively involved in the study of the physical and chemical properties of pulsating stars, mainly of Cepheid variables with a view to improve them as standard candles and use them, as a member of the Vista Variables in the Milky Way (VVV) research team, as a tool for the investigation of Galactic structure.
He has been regularly using telescopes in Chile, South Africa, and the Hubble Space Telescope for his research. Wolfgang Gieren obtained his PhD degree in 1975 at Bonn University in Germany and joined Universidad de Concepción in 1996 as a Full Professor.