Two CRAQ researchers receive a major grant from the Schmidt Futures Foundation

Laurence Perreault Levasseur and Yashar Hezaveh, both members of the Center for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec (CRAQ) and professors at the Université de Montréal, were awarded a $ 4 million grant by the Schmidt Futures Foundation to measure the rate of expansion of the Universe through the phenomenon of strong gravitational lensing using advanced machine learning methods.


The project, which will take place over the next 5 years, is a collaboration between the Université de Montréal and CUNY (New York). The program has two main objectives; 1) measure the current rate of expansion of the Universe, a cosmological parameter called the “Hubble constant”, and 2) probe the structure of far away massive black holes using the gravitational microlensing effect. To achieve this, the researchers intend to use the data collected for thousands of quasars undergoing the gravitational lensing effect that will be discovered over the next decade by the large LSST and Euclid sky surveys.

The Montreal team will focus on determining the value of the Hubble constant. Precise determination of the value of this parameter is particularly important for cosmology because current estimated values, coming from two different methods, show a significant difference. The value obtained from measurements of the distant cosmic diffuse background originating from the early universe differs significantly from that based on the distance measurements of nearby type Ia supernovae, in the local universe. The explanation for this discrepancy could lead to the discovery of new physical phenomena. The method proposed by CRAQ researchers, based on the strong gravitational lensing effect, is independent of the other two and should help resolve this important debate.

The CRAQ warmly congratulates Laurence Perreault Levasseur and Yashar Hezaveh for this prestigious selection.

About the Montreal team

Yashar Hezaveh is Assistant Professor and holds a Canada Research Chair in Astrophysical Data Analysis and Machine Learning. Laurence Perreault Levasseur is an assistant professor under grant and associate member of Mila – Quebec Institute of artificial intelligence. She is also a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Computational Astrophysics at the Flatiron Institute. This grant will allow the hiring of staff and the establishment of a new research group in cosmology and machine learning within the Département de physique at Université de Montréal.

About the Schmidt Futures Foundation

The Schmidt Futures Foundation supports excellence among the new generation of world research leaders in different fields, supporting interdisciplinary projects with the potential to transform their respective fields through significant technological advances. Currently, Schmidt Futures funds seven projects around the world covering the disciplines of natural sciences and engineering.

For more informations :
Laurence Perreault Levasseur
Université de Montréal

Yashar Hezaveh
Université de Montréal

Source :
Robert Lamontagne
Responsable des relations avec les médias
Centre de recherche en astrophysique du Québec
Téléphone : (438) 495-3482