The Universe at hand

Bologna Astrophysics Campus 2021 "Christmas Lecture". Speaker: Catherine Cesarsky (DAp, Université de Paris-Saclay, France)

  • Data: 17 dicembre 2021 dalle 11:30 alle 12:30

  • Luogo: Sala Plenaria del CNR (via Gobetti 101) e diretta streaming

  • Modalità d'accesso: Ingresso libero previa iscrizione


Astronomers are excellent at taking advantage of new developments to increase their power of observation of the universe and its constituents. Often through international collaborations, they have been deploying mighty observatories and detectors of all kind on ground and in space. In parallel, they developed their skill at dealing with large amounts of data and of building numerical models to mimic natural phenomena. As a result, this is a time of extraordinary progress in our understanding of the cosmos, packed with new discoveries. I will illustrate the resulting revolution of knowledge with various examples, from extra solar planets and stars to galaxies and black holes and to the evolution of the universe as a whole.

Speaker biography:

Catherine Cezarsky  received a degree in Physical Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires and graduated with a PhD in Astronomy in 1971 from Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass., USA). She worked at the California Institute of Technology. In 1974, she moved to France, becoming a staff member of the Service d'Astrophysique (SAp), Direction des Sciences de la Matière (DSM), Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA). She then established her career in France. From 1985 to 1993, she was the Head of SAp. Later, as Director of DSM (1994–1999), she led a team of about 3000 scientists, engineers and technicians active within a broad spectrum of basic research programmes in physics, chemistry, astrophysics and earth sciences. From 1999 to 2007, she was the Director General of the European Southern Observatory. From 2009 to 2012, she was High Commissioner for Atomic Energy in France, advisor to the French government for science and energy issues. Now, she is High level Science Advisor at CEA.

Catherine Cesarsky’s research activities span several areas of modern astrophysics. The first part of her career was devoted to the high-energy domain. This has involved studies of the propagation and composition of galactic cosmic rays, of matter and fields in the diffuse interstellar medium, as well as the acceleration of particles in astrophysical shocks, e.g. in connection with supernovae. She then turned to infrared astronomy. She was the Principal Investigator of the ISOCAM camera onboard the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) of the European Space Agency (ESA), which flew between 1995 and 1998. As such, she has lead the ISOCAM central programme, which studied, in a coordinated way, the infrared emission from a variety of galactic and extragalactic sources and yielded new and exciting results on star formation and galactic evolution. These were consolidated through further observations with the ESO VLT, the satellites Spitzer and Herschel.

From August 2006 to August 2009, Catherine Cesarsky was President of the International Astronomical Union. She is recipient of the 1998 COSPAR (Committee on Space Research) Space Science Award, and member or foreign member of various Academies (French Académie des Sciences, Academia Europaea, International Academy of Astronautics, National Academy of Sciences USA, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of London) and holds a Honoris Causa Doctorate from the University of Geneva. She is Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Mérite and Commandeur de l’Ordre la Légion d’Honneur.