Daniela Calzetti, astronomy, was recently awarded the 2016 Tage Erlander Visiting Professorship by the Swedish Research Council. It is awarded annually to an internationally prominent researcher in natural and engineering sciences.
As part of the honor, Calzetti will spend six months in spring and summer next year, mainly at the University of Stockholm.
A specialist in how galaxies are formed, Calzetti is known worldwide for“Calzetti’s Law,” a tool she developed in the mid-1990s that, among other things, allows astronomers to estimate how much information they are missing due to dust obscuring probes of very distant galaxies. She noted recently that it has not been refuted and it may be a matter of time before another astronomer comes up with an idea to replace it, but at present it is still accepted.
Calzetti’s research interest is in exploring galaxies and how their shape is linked to the stars they form. For example, why some are flat as pancakes while others are spherical, football-shaped, spiral or shapeless blobs. She says astronomers have many ideas, but few hard-core facts. The shapes seem to be closely related to a galaxy’s life cycle. Answers will help astronomers understand why big elliptical galaxies are often “red and dead,” that is, retired and spent, while spirals are often gas-rich, vibrant and still actively forming stars.
Overall, Calzetti notes there are many different types of galaxy and they seem to form stars according to their own “ personality.” Her task is to do ask how the environment helps to shape this. “I’m not convinced I have enough lifetime left to answer our questions about how galaxies are formed,” she notes.
The visiting professorship was established in 1981 in honor of Tage Erlander (1901–1985), who was prime minister of Sweden from 1946 to 1969, on his 80th birthday.