Professor Michiel van der Klis of the University of Amsterdam has received a TOP grant (TOP-GO) from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). He receives the grant for his project Signalen van Einstein's zwaartekracht (Signals of Einstein's gravity). The TOP grant is awarded to cross-disciplinary science projects of superb quality. NWO has allocated fourteen million euros for nineteen research proposals. A total of 123 research proposals were submitted. The grant is worth a maximum of 750,000 euros.
Gravity is so strong around black holes and neutron stars that unique relativistic phenomena occur. Michiel van der Klis focuses his research on unexplained signals that are transmitted in the form of X-rays in the proximity of black holes and neutron stars. There are strong indications that these signals arise because the strong gravity generates strange forms of orbital motion. The purpose of the study is to identify the exact nature of the signals and use them to study Einstein's general relativity theory and the matter in neutron stars.
About the TOP grantThe TOP-GO grants round was a pilot scheme organised by the NWO and ZonMw. The aim was to explore the feasibility and value of a cross-disciplinary free competition. A second goal was to see whether the research proposals would really stand out in such a competition. The aims have been fulfilled: more than three quarters of all applications were at the interface between disciplines, and most of those involved were positive about the possibility of interdisciplinary assessment. The steering committee commended the prominent global position held by the NWO. For the time being, the TOP-GO competition was a one-off, although the possibility of a future competition is being considered.