Portrait de Marta Volonteri Marta Volonteri

The 2022 CNRS silver medal is awarded to Marta Volonteri, directrice de recherche at the IAP, for her studies of massive black holes located at the center of galaxies using numerical simulations.

Marta Volonteri obtained her PhD in astrophysics at the University of Milan (Italy) in 2003, and carried out postdoctoral fellowships at the University of California at Santa Cruz (United States of America) and at the Institute of Astronomy of Cambridge (United Kingdom). In 2007, she was appointed assistant professor, then in 2010, associate professor at the University of Michigan (United States of America). She was recruited in 2012 as CNRS directrice de recherche (senior researcher) at the Institut d'astrophysique de Paris (CNRS/Sorbonne Université). In 2014, the European Research Council (ERC) awarded a "consolidator" grant to her project proposal concerning the formation and evolution of massive black holes.

Marta Volonteri studies massive black holes located at the center of many galaxies. Their masses can reach several billion times that of the Sun and they play an important role in the evolution of their host galaxies. Using complex numerical simulations, she makes theoretical predictions of the formation and evolution of massive black holes at the center of galaxies, and compares them with astronomical observations. Marta Volonteri showed the link between the formation of massive black holes in the first galaxies and their presence in dwarf galaxies today. Models also predict that massive black holes merge during the coalescence of their host galaxies, and that these mergers emit gravitational waves. To participate in this research, Marta Volonteri is involved in the LISA mission, ESA's large space observatory of gravitational waves, whose launch is scheduled for 2037.

Web writing: Valérie de Lapparent
Layout: Jean Mouette

April 2022

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