Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory

Stars, Stellar Populations and Interstellar Medium


The research of our group focuses on the physics of the Galaxy. In particular, we follow two main lines of research: (i) star formation studies, from the first stages of the cloud collapse to the formation of the disk from which planetary systems originate; (ii) studies of the formation and evolution of the Milky Way and the local group, based on the analysis of the chemical and physical properties of stellar populations in both clusters and the galactic field. The group is also involved in the technological development of radio instrumentation and software to support space missions and surveys with ground based instruments. Furthermore, our group carries out teaching activities in collaboration with the Universities of Florence and Pisa, and is involved in outreach projects.

Star Formation: For long time, Arcetri has been a center of excellence for star formation studies in Italy with several international collaborations and relevant roles in the development of future instruments. We study several open issues regarding the first phases of the star formation process and the physics of molecular clouds, such as the chemical evolution of the interstellar medium, the structure of the magnetic field, the processes driving cloud collapse, mass accretion and jet expulsion, and the influence of cosmic rays. For what concern the more advanced phase of the star formation process, we study the chemistry of protoplanetary disk around young solar-type stars, the physical properties of disks around high-mass stars, the acceleration of atomic jets and molecular outflow, and the properties of masers as tracers of star formation.

Galactic Archeology: Our group carries out a robust and extended research program focused on the study of the different components of the Milky Way. In particular, we study the formation and dispersion of open clusters, which are the building blocks of the galactic disk, the origin of globular clusters, that allow us to go back to the earlier phases of the Galaxy formation, and the chemical properties of the Galactic disk, which are used to understand how it formed and evolved. Furthermore, we study the relation between stellar chemical abundances and age to develop new dating methods and  better understand stellar evolution.

Technological development: our group is working on several new technologies for radio instrumentation. Furthermore, it collaborates to the calibration and data processing for space mission, including the European mission Gaia and to the development of software for the reduction and analysis of data taken with ground-based instruments.

We carry out both observational and theoretical research together with studies more focused on technology. The observational techniques used by our group include spectroscopy, high-resolution imaging and imaging in polarised light across all the wavelength spectrum with both ground-based and spaceborne instrumentations. For the star formation studies, we often carry out radio observations (from centimeter to submillimeter wavelength), with single dish antennas (e.g., IRAM 30 m and MPIfr 100 m) and with interferometers like ALMA, NOEMA, VLA, VLBI, while for the mid- and far infrared we use space telescopes like Herschel or in the future the JWST. The Galactic archeology group is involved, even with major management roles in some of the main stellar surveys like the astrometric, spectroscopic and photometric survey performed by the European satellite Gaia and the spectroscopic survey Gaia-ESO based on VLT observations. The theoretical research is aimed to both interpret observations and to build analytical and numerical models for studying the cloud collapse, the influence of the magnetic field and the cosmic rays, and the process of outflow acceleration. 

For more information visit Group webpages


 Group Members


Francesca Bacciotti
Maria Teresa Beltrán
Riccardo Cesaroni
Claudio Codella
Davide Fedele
Francesco Fontani
Elena Franciosini
Daniele Galli
Andrea Lorenzani
Fabrizio Massi
Laura Magrini
Lorenzo Morbidelli
Luca Moscadelli
Luca Olmi
Elena Pancino
Linda Podio
Germano Sacco


Anna Brucalassi
Antonio Garufi
Marco Padovani
Monica Rainer
Victor Rivilla
Nicoletta Sanna
Maria Tsantaki
Mathieu Van der Swaelmen


Giada Casali
Laura Colzi
Seyma Mercimek
Chiara Mininni