The meetings will be held every second Thursday of the month in online mode. You can participate by connecting to this Zoom ID: 480 074 3584 (passcode: ab6xGi) or via this link

All the meetings will then be visible on the youtube channel of the EduINAF in the Laura Bassi Series playlist.

For any information contact us at

Next Speakers

10th November

14:30 CET

Title: Bologna in the Eighteenth Century: a 'Paradise' for Women

Speaker: Miriam Focaccia

Abstract: The XVIII Century has been a century with profound transformations that affected the female universe traditional behavioral models. In this context, Bologna played a leading role. In fact, during this century the memory of acknowledged women, such as Accorsa, Bitisia Gozzadini and Alessandra Giliani, who lived between the XII and XIII Centuries, re-emerged and constituted a very strong citizen myth. Besides, thanks to Prospero Lambertini’s - future Pope Benedict XIV - skillful direction and to his project of political, social and cultural renewal and revitalization of the city, some women’s career was encouraged and supported. Lambertini was inspired in his project by a group of progressive and advanced scientists coming from the Bolognese scene such as Iacopo Bartolomeo Beccari, Francesco Maria Zanotti, Domenico Gusmano Galeazzi, Eustachio and Gabriele Manfredi and Giovanni Antonio Galli. Differently from the previous decades model of aristocratic feminism, a new female model was proposed. Both Laura Bassi and Anna Morandi fit perfectly into this picture: they were mothers, but also scientists who, coming from modest social and economic contexts, claimed the importance and 'public' utility of their competences. The protagonist was the Academy of Sciences of Bologna. Here, starting from 1732, it was set up a special class of fellows called the 'Honored' that included foreigners and women such as Laura Bassi, Faustina Pignatelli, Émilie du Châtelet, Maria Gaetana Agnesi and Marguerite Le Comte.

Past Speakers

6th October

14:30 CET

Title: Galaxy misalignments and their role in the growth of supermassive black holes

Speaker: Sandra Raimundo

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: Galaxies are known to interact with each other. This interaction process often leaves an imprint that is observable in the aftermath of the interaction, such as tidal features or perturbations in the stellar and gas kinematics of the galaxy. Sometimes these perturbations can be structures (i.e. gas or stars) that are strongly misaligned or even rotating in the opposite direction with respect to the main stellar body of the galaxy. It has been suggested by simulations that misalignments may drive galaxy gas all the way to the central supermassive back hole, one of the ingredients needed to fuel the high energy activity known as Active Galactic Nuclei. In this talk I will discuss the observational evidence of these interactions and the role that they can have on the growth of supermassive black holes.

9th June

14:30 CET

Title: Studying the Epoch of Reionization with high-resolution numerical simulations

Speaker: Luz Ángela García

In this work, we explore the connection between the first galaxies and their hosting dark matter halos in the early Universe when Reionization is concluding. We do so through the implementation of numerical simulations. The theoretical models are compatible with a faint-end slope of the galaxy luminosity function of alpha = -2 at the end of the Reionization. On the other hand, we study the number density of Lyman Alpha Emitter (LAE) galaxies, their physical properties, and synthetic spectra at redshift ~ 6 using high-resolution hydrodynamical simulations with radiative transfer from the Thesan project. By recreating the scenario described in Becker et al. 2018, we test the hypothesis that observations to date are missing the vast majority of the high-redshift galaxies' signal since they are extremely faint and, thus, are out of the observational limits of our current telescopes. In this case, we provide a forecast of the properties of the dwarf galaxies responsible for completing the budget of ionizing photons that concluded the Epoch of Reionization.

12th May

14:30 CET

Title: Characterisation of AGN population in ~ 10,000 deg² SDSS DR8 redMaPPer galaxy clusters.

Speaker: Meron Bekabil

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: In this study, we have used an AGN sample of galaxies drawn from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 8 (SDSS DR8) and the redMaPPer SDSS galaxy groups and clusters catalog. AGN plays an important role in galaxy formation and evolution, but still, there are many open questions regarding the triggering of nuclear activity in galaxies. In this context, the influence of the environment on AGN activity is still not well understood.

In this work, we wanted to go a step further to study the environmental dependence of cluster richness and AGN distance from cluster center in relation to other properties of active galaxies such as stellar mass, star formation rate, and luminosity, in order to understand better the properties of AGN in galaxy clusters and groups. In addition, we carried out all studies in three redshift ranges, taking into account all z, z < 0.1, and z > 0.1. We also divided the whole sample of AGN into Sy2 and LINERs and carried out all analyses for all classes.In general, for the analyzed sample we have not found significant differences between AGN properties in groups and clusters and those known to be in the field. In addition, we do not find any clear correlation between the studied properties of active galaxies and cluster richness nor the distance from the cluster center. Our findings suggest that in the local universe the environment might not be the fundamental parameter for AGN activity and properties of active galaxies.

14th April

14:30 CET

Title: HI mapping of nearby dwarf galaxies with SKA pathfinders unique capabilities of KAT-7 and MeerKAT.

Speaker: Brenda Namumba

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: Dwarf galaxies are by far the most numerous galaxies in the Local Universe. Their simple structure and proximity provide a unique window to the detailed investigation of various processes necessary for galaxy formation and evolution. One of the most reliable approaches for studying the evolution of galaxies is to look at their physical properties using neutral hydrogen gas (HI). In this talk, I will present ongoing work on the HI properties of dwarf galaxies with SKA path-finder and precursor telescopes. I will also report the discovery of large amounts of cold HI gas in a nearby galaxy group. These observations were obtained with South Africa’s MeerKAT-64 array as part of the early science program.

10th March

14:30 CET

Title: Life (in) the Universe, and Everything

Speaker: Eleonora Alei

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: After the discovery of the first exoplanet orbiting a Main Sequence star in 1995, exoplanetology has become a robust field of astrophysics. With more than 4000 confirmed planets and counting, we are able to study how diverse the population of planets is. Surprisingly, little to no planets similar to Earth were found so far. Is it because there is only one Earth in the whole universe, or is it because Earth twins are too weak to be detected with modern telescopes? How does this impact the search for other life forms in the universe? This talk will focus on these questions, showing the latest news and prospects for the search of an inhabited exo-world.

10th February

14:30 CET

Title: The role of women in Astronomy for development

Speaker: Carolina Johanna Ödman and Vanessa McBride

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: Astronomy for development has been an active field with dedicated resources for the last decade through the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD). In this context, ‘development’ is defined broadly through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, one of which is gender equality.

In this talk, we look through the lens of gender at some of the initiatives aimed at developing gender parity both within and outside of astronomy. We discuss relevant OAD funded projects, the African Network for Women in Astronomy and how hackathons can be a vehicle towards gender equality in the education and innovation spheres.

The hosting of the IAU's general assembly in Africa for the first time in 2024, presents us with a great opportunity to work towards and showcase the progress of such programmes across Africa.

13th January

14:30 CET

Title: Observational diversity of hydrogen-rich supernovae

Speaker: Claudia Gutièrrez

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: Type II Supernovae (SNe) II are produced by the final explosions of massive stars (>8 Msun), which retain a significant part of their hydrogen envelopes before the explosion. These SNe show a large diversity in their transient behaviour, which is likely determined by differences, not just in explosion properties, but also in the progenitor star characteristics. In this talk, I will present the current status of SN II studies, in particular, the results of the analysis of a sample of SNe II occurring within low-luminosity galaxies. I will also describe the challenges in the determination of the explosion and progenitor parameters for these objects, and how this scenario is changing thanks to the discovery of new peculiar objects.

09th December

14:30 CET

Title: Atomic Hydrogen disks as tracers of galaxy transformation in Abell 2626 and beyond

Speaker: Tirna Deb

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: The extended, fragile, collisional neutral hydrogen gas discs in galaxies are excellent diagnostic tracers of gravitational and hydrodynamic processes in the cosmic environment they are residing in and also reservoirs for star formation. The morphology-density relation provides a direct evidence that the cosmic environment of galaxies influences their morphologies and star formation activity. Within the virial radius of a galaxy cluster, both gravitational perturbations (tidal interactions, harassment, etc.) and hydrodynamic processes (thermal evaporation, ram pressure stripping (RPS), etc.) are at play. However, it is not clear yet which of these processes dominate the transformation of galaxies from star forming and gas rich, to quiescent and gas poor. I am investigating the influences of the global and local cosmic environment on the evolution of galaxies, both from the neutral hydrogen (HI) morphologies of galaxies in different locations of cluster substructures and the multi-wavelength case studies of the striking galaxies. Currently, from the MeerKAT telescope observations, I am studying in detail the spatially resolved morphologies and kinematics of the 219 HI detected galaxies in the entire volume of Abell 2626 galaxy cluster, covering a range of cosmic environments. By identifying the cluster substructures and characterising their environments, I investigate the relative importance and effects of the various physical mechanisms that are responsible for reshaping galaxies. The preliminary analysis shows increase of HI deficient galaxies towards the cluster core, indicating an increase of ram-pressure efficiency in the high density cluster core. In addition, I am also studying the detailed cases of HI gas stripping in the “jellyfish galaxies”, the extreme examples of RPS with in-situ star formation in the tails. I have analysed the multi-phase (neutral, molecular, ionised gas) ISM of jellyfish galaxies JW100 and JO204 from multi-wavelength MeerKAT or JVLA, MUSE and ALMA observations. Both of these galaxies host an AGN in the centre, have active star formation in the stripped tails and excess amount of molecular gas. I will talk about how HI observations contribute to understanding the multiphase gas stripping in these jellyfish galaxies.

11st November

14:30 CET

Title: Star formation laws and gas turbulence in nearby galaxies.

Speaker: Cecilia Bacchini

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: My talk focuses on the connection between star formation and cold gas in galaxy discs, with the “fil rouge” being the importance of the gas discthickness and its increase with the galactocentric distance. Generally, discs are assumed thin or having constant thickness, but observations and theory indicate that this approximation is erroneous. I developed an accurate approach to derive the disc thickness and applied it to nearby disc galaxies.

The first part of my talk concerns star formation laws, which tell us how many stars form from a given amount of gas. These relations are typically derived using the observed densities of gas and star formation rate, which are projected on the disc surface. These surface-based laws hold in the inner regions of galactic discs but fail in their outskirts. By converting surface densities into volume densities through the disc thickness, I obtained a volumetric star formation law, which holds across the whole galactic disc and is likely more fundamental than surface-based relations.

The second part of my talk focuses on gas turbulence, which is ubiquitously observed in disc galaxies. Since turbulence is quickly dissipated by the gas viscosity, it must be sustained by some energy source. This latter has been long debated, as even the prime candidates, supernovae, seemed insufficient.I obtained a crucial improvement by realising that dissipation becomes less effective with increasing disc thickness. This brings to the conclusion that supernovae can feed the turbulence of the cold gas, finally solving the conundrum.

21st October

14:30 CET

Title: Status of the mid-infrared imager and the single conjugate adaptive optics for METIS.

Speaker: Conception Cardenas-Vazquez

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: We present an overview of the IMAGER and the SCAO subsystems of METIS, emphasizing their optical design, their current status, some of the technologies that are being used in the optical solution and the prototyping activities.

METIS, the powerful Mid-infrared ELT Imager and Spectrograph for the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), has successfully passed its Optics Final design review this July, 2021.

The main METIS science goals are the detection and characterization of exoplanets and the investigation of proto-planetary disks and the formation of planets.

Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie is the second largest consortium partner in METIS, it is responsible for the IMAGER and the Single-Conjugate Adaptive Optics (SCAO) subsystems and holds in addition three key roles within the METIS consortium: the Instrument Scientist, the SCAO Lead and the Thermal Lead.

The IMAGER sub-system includes two science cameras for the LM- and N-band providing diffraction-limited imaging at 3-13 microns with a field of view of approximately 11"x11" . The imager also provides low/medium resolution slit spectroscopy as well as coronagraphy for high contrast imaging and a pupil re-imaging capability.

The SCAO module is a Pyramid adaptive optics system instrument in the range 1.4 to 2.4 microns. This single-conjugated adaptive optics will be a cryogenic instrument, working in the infrared, the first of his kind.

10th June

14:30 CET

Title: Molecular fractionation in star forming regions

Speaker: Elena Redaelli

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: Fractionation is the substitution of an atom in a molecular compound with one of its isotopes, creating a so-called isotopologue. In the last decades, these processes have raised great interest because they are considered an important diagnostic tool to follow the different phases of star formation, from its early stages up to the planetary disk formation and evolution. In my work, I focus on the fractionation of two among the most abundant elements in the Universe, hydrogen and nitrogen.

Concerning nitrogen fractionation, I will show results regarding the abundant molecular ion diazenylium (N2H+) towards both pre-stellar and proto-stellar low-mass cores. I will show how the 14N/15N isotopic ratio is significantly higher in pre-stellar sources if compared to proto-stellar ones, and I will discuss these findings in the context of the most recent chemical models.

The fractionation of hydrogen is also know as deuteration. I will show our recent, high-sensitivity maps of the rotational transitions of N2H+ and HCO+, obtained using the IRAM 30m telescope. From these data, I have derived reliable values of the molecular column density of each species. I then infer the searched isotopic ratio dividing the rare isotolopogue column density by that of the corresponding main species. The D/H ratios found in N2H+ and HCO+ are 26% and 3.5% respectively at the core centre, and they can be explained by the different chemistry that these two ions exhibit. Finally, I will also discuss the recent observations of the deuterated molecule H2D+ obtained with ALMA towards two high-mass clumps. These data show how deuterated molecules can be an important probe of the early stages of star forming regions.

13rd May

14:30 CET

Title: What Sets the Structure of the Milky Way disk? Insights from Gaia and Cosmological Simulations

Speaker: Neige Frankel

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: Disk galaxies present a great regularity in their stellar bodies but reveal complex structures in their young stars and gas. The Milky Way is an ideal model organism to study the connection between the highly structured birth conditions and the subsequent dynamical evolution of its disk, as 6D phase space information was collected by the spectroscopic survey SDSS and Gaia space mission for its individual stars. I will present a simple statistical model for the formation and evolution of the Milky Way disk, describing when and where its stars were born, with what metallicity, and how their orbits evolved. The best fit model implies an inside-out growth consistent with redshift-size evolution of external star-forming galaxies, extensive radial migration, but only modest orbital heating. Consequently, the disk looks very regular without losing its radial gradients. To address the possible causes of this long-term evolution, I will then present the next steps such modelling could take, drawing inspiration from cosmological simulations.

8th April

14:30 CET

Title: Green valley galaxies and the role of AGN in galaxy evolution

Speaker: Mirjana Povic

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: Green valley galaxies showed to be very important for understanding the quenching of star formation, morphological transformation of galaxies from late- to early-types, and galaxy evolution across cosmic time. Most of the X-ray detected AGN have been found in the green valley in optical, suggesting that AGN might be responsible for stopping the star formation in galaxies. This picture however becomes more complex when we use multiwavelength data, and is in contrast with FIR studies where recently it has been seen that active galaxies in the green valley have enhanced star formation rates in comparison to inactive ones. This talk will give an overview of the green valley selection criteria, properties of green valley galaxies and the role that AGN could have in galaxy evolution. It will also highlight the use of J-PAS data and survey spectrophotometric properties in the studies of green valley galaxies.

11th March

14:30 CET

Title: The search for Galactic PeVatrons: gamma-ray and neutrino signatures.

Speaker: Silvia Celli

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: Since its discovery more than one hundred years ago, the origin of the cosmic-ray flux measured on Earth is still unknown. In order to explain the energy region below the knee, at few PeV, supernova remnants (SNRs) are usually addressed as main cosmic accelerators. So far, no clear indication of PeV energies has been observed in such a kind of sources: in fact, even the brightest TeV SNR, namely RX J1713.7-3946, shows a spectrum with a cut-off at gamma ray energies of few TeVs. However, such non-observations do not prevent SNRs to have acted as PeVatrons in the past. Indeed, the highest energy particles are expected to escape the SNR shock at the end of the free expansion stage, eventually propagating in the surrounding interstellar medium. The interaction of these particles with massive molecular clouds of our Galaxy would give rise to very-high energy gamma rays and neutrinos, which would then propagate almost unaffected towards Earth. I will discuss the physics of such processes, in the context of the acceleration, escape and propagation of high energy particles, highlighting the detection prospects for the next generation gamma-ray ground-based instrument CTA and the under construction neutrino telescope KM3NeT.

11th February

14:30 CET

Title: Dynamical evolution of supermassive black hole binaries across time and space

Speaker: Elisa Bortolas

Streaming on youtube at this link

Abstract: Coalescing supermassive black hole binaries are key targets for several ongoing and planned gravitational wave facilities, such as the Pulsar Timing Array and the LISA mission. These observatories promise to unveil the properties of merging supermassive black holes since the dawn of structure formation. In this seminar, I will describe the advances in the dynamical modelling of supermassive binaries, from the large-scale galaxy merger down to the small separations at which gravitational waves ensure their final coalescence. I will especially focus on recent developments that challenge the traditional paradigm of binary evolution, and point at an erratic massive black hole pairing across different redshifts and spatial scales. Finally, I will touch upon the new strategies we need to adopt in order to anticipate the forthcoming gravitational wave observations.