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Alessandro Carmelo LANZAFAME

Associate Professor of Astronomy and astrophysics [FIS/05]

Alessandro Lanzafame obtains the summa cum laude degree in Physics at the University of Catania in 1989 with a thesis on Plasma numerical simulation and Astrophysical applications under the supervision of Prof. Marcello Rodonò and Prof. Angelo Marcello Anile.

From 1990 to 1994 is Post-graduate Research Assistant at Armagh Observatory, N. Ireland, and enrolled as PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast.

In 1994 defends his PhD thesis entitled The transition region between the chromosphere and the corona in late-type stars with Prof. Dame Carole Jordan e Prof. Francis Keenan as examiners. Supervisors of the thesis are Prof. Philip Dufton e del Dr. Patrick Brendan Byrne.

In 1994 is Post-Doctoral Research Assistant at Armagh Observatory

From 1995 to 1996 is Research Fellow at the Strathclyde University in Glasgow.

In 1997 returns to the University of Catania as Lecturer in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

In 2006 obtains the title of Adjunct Professor.

Since 2018 is Associate Professor in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Catania

Prof. Alessandro Lanzafame

Curriculum vitae


Prof. Alessandro Lanzafame    
Department of Physics and Astronomy    
Astrophysics Section    
University of Catania    
Via S. Sofia 78 Telephone: +39 0957332239
95123 Catania Fax: +39 095330592
Italy e-mail:

Area of expertise: Galactic Astrophysics, Stellar Physics, Solar Physics, Stellar Systems, Stellar evolution, Atomic Physics.

Relevant Employment and Educational History


1989 Degree in Physics, University of Catania
1984 Doctor Of Philosophy (PhD), Queens University of Belfast


1990 – 1993 Post-Graduate Research Assistant, Armagh Observatory, UK
1994 Post-Doctoral Research Assistant, Armagh Observatory, UK
1995 – 1996 Research Fellow, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
1997 – 2018 Researcher, University of Catania
2006 – 2018 Adjunct Professor, University of Catania
2018 – present Associate Professor, University of Catania

Research Interests
Angular momentum evolution of low-mass stars and formation of planetary systems. Open clusters dynamics and evolution. Evolution of the Galaxy. Stellar ages. Lithium depletion. Stellar magnetic activity. Modelling of stellar chromospheres. Structure of the solar outer atmosphere. Formation of helium lines in the Sun and solar-like stars. Mass accretion in young stars. Inelastic atomic scattering in tenuous plasmas.

Publication Summary (as of 2nd of January 2020, source ADS)
162 papers published, 113 refereed, 9370 citations, h-index=34.
Full list at ADS available at this link

Selected Research-Related Public Service Positions

  • INAF Associated Researcher

  • Member of the ADAS (Atomic Data and Analysis Structure) steering committee

  • Member of the Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) for the ESA Gaia space mission

  • Manager of the Gaia-DPAC work packages Special Variability Detection, Solar-like Variability and Extended Stellar Parametrizer – Cool Stars

  • Member of the steering committee for the Italian participation in the ESA Gaia space mission

  • Co-Investigator in the Gaia-ESO Large Spectroscopic Survey; manager of the Pre-Main Sequence Spectrum Analyses working group

  • Università di Catania, Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia, board member

  • Università di Catania, member of the Physics Doctoral School committee (Ph.D. in Physics)

  • Contact person for the Astrophysics curriculum for the Laurea Magistrale in Physics at the University of Catania

  • Università di Catania representative in the Italian H2020 space advisory board

  • Referee for the Journals: Astronomy & Astrophysics, Astrophysical Journal, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Summary of Grant income > 10 kEuro

1998 PRIN-MIUR (Participant)
2003 PRIM-MIUR (Participant)
2008 PRIN-INAF (Participant, 120kEuro)
2010 PRIN-INAF (Participant, 140kEuro)
2008 ASI contract The Gaia mission: the Italian participation in the DPAC Consortium (Co-I, Local coordinator, 1.6MEuro)
2010 Accordo attuativo ASI-INAF Missione Gaia - Partecipazione Italiana al DPAC (Co-I, Local coordinator, 3.7MEuro)
2013 INAF Premiale Gaia-ESO (Co-I, Local coordinator, 360 kEuro)
2014 PRIN-INAF The Gaia-ESO survey (Co-I, Local coordinator, 186 kEuro)
2015 Extension of Accordo attuativo ASI-INAF Missione Gaia - Partecipazione Italiana al DPAC (Co-I, Local coordinator, 3.4MEuro)

Teaching Activities

University Teaching

1997 – 2000 Laboratory for Astrophysics (assistant)
2000 – 2001 Stellar Physics (60h)
2001 – 2006 Astronomy (60h)
2003 – 2010 Cosmology (48h)
2006 – 2008 Stellar Physics (48h)
2010 – 2012 Elements of Planetology and Cosmology (48h)
2010 – present Astrophysics (48h, 42h since 2018)
2019 – present Elements of Astronomy and Cosmology (42h)


1991 – 1992 Radiative Transfer in stellar atmospheres (Master of Science, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Queen’s University Belfast)
1996 – 1997 Stellar Spectroscopy (PhD in Physics, University of Catania)
1999 Elemental abundances in stellar atmospheres (PhD in Physics, University of Catania)
2003 – 2008 The Origins of Modern Science
2018 Magnetic fields in Neutron Stars
2018 Astrophysics

Public Outreach Activity

  • Talks at schools and amateur groups on Astrophysics, Cosmology, and History of Science

  • Talks during visits of students of secondary schools at the INAF-Catania Astrophysical Observatory on Astrophysics and Cosmology

Professional Affiliations

  • Member of the International Astronomical Union (IAU)

  • Member of the Royal Astronomical Society (1992 - 1995)

N.B. the number of publications can affect the loading time of the information

Academic Year 2021/2022

Academic Year 2020/2021

Academic Year 2019/2020

Academic Year 2018/2019

Academic Year 2017/2018

Academic Year 2016/2017

Academic Year 2015/2016

Angular momentum evolution of low-mass stars.
Rotation and magnetic fields effects on low-mass stars
Stellar age from rotation (gyro-chronology)
Stellar lithium depletion and enrichment.
Stellar magnetic activity.
Open clusters cinematics, dynamics, and evolution.
Evolution of the Galaxy.
Modelling of stellar chromospheres.
Structure and heating of the solar outer atmosphere.
Formation of helium lines in the Sun and solar-like stars.
Mass accretion in young stars.
Formation of planetary systems
Inelastic atomic scattering in tenuous plasmas.


My scientific activity is currently focused on problems related to rotational evolution and magnetic fields in low-mass stars and the consequences on the internal stellar structure, on the formation of planets, on the star-planet interaction, and on the determination of stellar age. These problems have important connections with the conditions of star formation, with the dynamics of star clusters and associations and their interaction with the Galaxy system, as well as with the formation and evolution of the kinematic groups of the Galaxy. A significant objective was achieved in 2018 with the publication of the results obtained within the ESA-Gaia mission, and contained in the second date release (DR2), on the amplitude of the rotational modulation and rotation period of approximately 150,000 stars (Lanzafame + 2018, A&A, 616A, 16L). In addition to constituting the most extensive catalog on stellar rotation available today, the richness and photometric precision of the data have highlighted unexpected results on the magneto-rotational evolution of young stars that change the current paradigm. The data show, in fact, evidence of rapid transitions hitherto unknown between different magneto-rotational regimes in young stars (Lanzafame + 2019, ApJ, 877, 157L). Another notable achievement in this area is the development of a new statistical method based on the survival analysis for the statistical determination of the radii of stars in stellar systems from periods of rotation and projected rotational velocities. The application of this method to the Pleiades has allowed us to establish that only some stars in a transition phase of magneto-rotational evolution appear to be affected by radius inflation compared to standard models (Lanzafame+2017A&A, 597A, 63L).


Altre attività della mia ricerca riguardano misure spettroscopiche da terra e dallo spazio per lo studio delle condizioni fisiche delle atmosfere stellari e dell'atmosfera solare. Le tematiche di applicazione di queste misure riguardano principalmente la determinazione dei parametri stellari fondamentali, l'attività magnetica, la rotazione stellare, l'accrescimento di massa in stelle giovani, l'evoluzione dell'abbondanza del litio, i meccanismi di riscaldamento del plasma cromosferico e coronale. In questo contesto, in ambito stellare la Gaia-ESO survey, insieme ad altre survey simili, costituisce un contributo epocale.

Other activities of my research concern spectroscopic measurements from the ground and from space for the study of the physical conditions of stellar atmospheres and the solar atmosphere. The main objective is the inference of fundamental stellar parameters, magnetic activity, stellar rotation, mass growth in young stars, the evolution of lithium abundance, the heating mechanisms of the chromospheric and coronal plasma. In the stellar case, the Gaia-ESO survey represents, in this respect, an epochal contribution.

I risultati da me ottenuti in ambito solare sono ottenuti principalmente nel contesto dell'analisi di spettri EUV acquisiti da SoHo CDS e SUMER. Un mio contributo particolarmente rilevante per la comprensione dei meccanismi di riscaldamento della corona solare è stata la scoperta della relazione tra signatures nella distribuzione del plasma in temperatura (differential emissione measure - DEM) e il regime di riscaldamento impulsivo (Susinno+ 2010ApJ, 709, 499S).

The results I obtained in the solar field are mainly in the context of the analysis of EUV spectra acquired by SoHo CDS and SUMER. One of my particularly relevant contributions to the understanding of the solar corona heating mechanisms was the discovery of the relationship between signatures in the plasma distribution in temperature (differential emission measure - DEM) and the impulsive heating regime (Susinno+ 2010ApJ, 709, 499S).

My other contributions of particular importance concern the measurement of helium stratification in chemically peculiar B stars, the determination of the DEM in structures of the solar corona, the measurement of the physical parameters of active regions in close binary stars (of the RS CVn type), the measurement of plasma velocity in magnetic flux tubes in solar active regions (first experimental evidence of siphon flows), the indirect measurement of the mean free path of photons and protons in the external atmosphere of low-mass magnetically active stars, the radiometric calibration of Coronal Diagnostic Spectrometer (CDS) on board SoHO.