07 março 2012


Porque sozinho ninguém vai a lado nenhum.
”Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” W. B. Cameron, 1963
Simply put, and as romantic as it sounds, this project would not have been possible without the people that I thank in the following lines. They have been here with me, in many ways, since the very beginning of this journey.
First and foremost, I am deeply grateful to my supervisors Jarle Brinchmann and Catarina Lobo from whom I have learned much more than I can possibly grasp. Catarina has been a part of my path ever since I took my first steps in astronomy, as a young undergraduate. I thank her dedication and support throughout these years, while I tried to find my way through science.
More than a supervisor, Jarle has been a mentor. I feel lucky to have had the guidance of such a brilliant scientist and a wonderful person. The invaluable lessons he has taught me from day one, never settling and always questioning, are the cornerstone of the astronomer I aim to become. His endless patience, enthusiasm and care when teaching me, from the most basic lines of code to the most complex scientific analysis, is something I will definitely nurture for years to come, along with the sense of wonderment he embedded in me. Thank you Jarle.
I thank my parents from the bottom of my heart. They have always, unconditionally, encouraged me to follow my dreams, especially this precious dream of becoming an astronomer. They have taught me where there is a will there is a way, always cherishing my silliest ideas and showing me how to make the best out of them. Thank you for your tremendous support and above all for your inspiration.
I thank Rupes, who has been holding my hand for more than a decade now. He has always been there, challenging me, dreaming with me, every step of the this bumpy way. I imagine that putting up with me when I started rambling about galaxies was sometimes not easy, but you always listened. I treasure how you always found a way to make me smile and a word to comfort me. Thank you for being my safe haven.
My friends have been the backbone of my life, especially in the last few years. Ana and Pedro, my partners in crime, thank you for bearing with me in the most turbulent of times, never leaving my side. I thank you for the care, for the non-sense, for fighting against and with me never scratching our friendship and for those memorable moments – whether on stage, at a dinner table or in the middle of a forsaken road with our helmets on. My Twine Luísa, with whom I have been sharing the ups and downs of this learning process ever since I started my academic voyage, and João, have kept me anchored to what really matters in the later stages of this work. I am eagerly looking forward to fulfill our long-lasting goal of raising a glass in Times Square, as I am to break ice with a spoon for many more winter drinks. I have also been lucky to have made new friends during this time – with whom would I discuss astronomy as passionately as football if not with my Italian friend Daniele? – and to have deepen ties with old ones, seeing them grow inside and outside astronomy - I believe we will be sharing stories over many RENA dinners yet to come. I am truly surrounded by beautiful people, places and stories, including an angel, a warmhearted city, a half-smile and a wonderfully crazy family.
I also want to leave a heartfelt thank you to Doctor Alice Marques. With her help, I am here, now, presenting this work and I am finally able to look back with a smile.
I acknowledge CAUP, my host institution, and I thank Sterrewacht Leiden for the valuable support during my stays in the Netherlands. In particular, I would like to thank Professora Teresa Lago for pointing me towards the right direction ever since I had my very first astronomy class and my collaborator Mercedes Filho with whom I expect to be working and sharing successes in the coming years. I thank in a very special way Joana Ascenso who has been not only a great friend but a teacher, and Joana Sousa, with whom I started this experience a few years ago and have seen our friendship grow much more beyond astronomy. Along with Joana and Joana, I also shared my office with Rui, Bruno and Jorge. I will certainly miss our time together, our conversations, our shared fears and our unbeatable certainties. I also thank my very good friend Nelma for her support in critical moments, being a right-hand throughout this time.
Without music, life would be a mistake, Nietzsche once wrote, and indeed music, like astronomy, is part of what I am. I thank Coral de Letras da Universidade do Porto for allowing me to sing some of the best music ever composed and for giving me great moments of joy after a day’s work. I would also like to thank my good friend and composer Daniel for one of the most exquisite experiences that came out of this thesis: a music made from Figure 2.16. Inspiration definitely comes in many forms, shapes and colors. Just like galaxies.
The last few years have been nothing short of a roller coaster ride – they have taught me more about science, myself and others, than I could possibly imagine. I cannot wait for the rides that are still yet to come.

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