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Best Early Career Researcher in Observational Astrophysics

Elisabetta Caffau

After several years of work as professor in secondary schools in Italy, Elisabetta Caffau obtained a PhD in observational astronomy from Paris Observatory in 2009. After a one year post-doctoral position in Paris Observatory, E. Caffau obtained a three year "Gliese fellow grant" at the Zentrum für Astronomie of the University of Heidelberg. E. Caffau has developed a method to obtain high precision abundances of the elements from 3D hydrodynamical computations. With the infrared spectrograph CRIRES at ESO/VLT, she measured the phosphorus abundance of twenty cool stars in the Galactic disk for the first

Elisabetta Caffau applied her method to recognize the extremely metal poor stars in the crowd of low-resolution spectra provided by large spectroscopic surveys like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Thanks to this very efficient tool, she discovered in 2011 the most primitive star currently known (SDSS J1029+1729) and she defined its chemical composition. The discovery of a star with an extremely low abundance of all the elements from C to Zn, is considered as a key for our understanding of the formation of stars and chemical elements in the early history of the Milky Way.

The work has been carried out at the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University (ZAH), at the Landessternwarte Königstuhl (LSW) and at the Department GEPI of Paris Observatory.