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The International Center for Relativistic Astrophysics Network - ICRANet
TypeInternational organization
DirectorRemo Ruffini
LocationPescara, Italy

ICRANet, the International Center for Relativistic Astrophysics Network, is an international organization promotes research activities in relativistic astrophysics and related areas. Its members are four countries and three Universities and Research Centers: the Republic of Armenia, the Federative Republic of Brazil, Italian Republic, the Vatican City State, the University of Arizona (USA), Stanford University (USA) and ICRA.

ICRANet headquarters are located in Pescara, Italy.

History of ICRANet foundation: ICRA and ICRANet[edit]

ICRA and ICRANet[edit]

In 1985, the International Center for Relativistic Astrophysics[1] ICRA was founded by Remo Ruffini (University of Rome "La Sapienza") together with Riccardo Giacconi (Nobel Prize for Physics 2002[2]), Abdus Salam (Nobel Prize for Physics 1979[3]), Paul Boynton (University of Washington), George Coyne (former director of the Vatican observatory), Francis Everitt (Stanford University) and Fang Li-Zhi (University of Science and Technology of China).

The Statute and the Agreement establishing of ICRANet were signed on March 19, 2003, and they were recognized in the same year by the Republic of Armenia and the Vatican City State. ICRANet has been created in 2005 by a law of the Italian Government, ratified by the Italian Parliament and signed by the President of the Italian Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi on February 10, 2005[4]. The Republic of Armenia, Italian Republic, the Vatican City State, ICRA, the University of Arizona and the Stanford University are the founding members.

On September 12, 2005, ICRANet Steering Committee was established and had its first meeting: Remo Ruffini and Fang Li-Zhi were appointed respectively Director and Chairman of the Steering Committee. On December 19, 2006 ICRANet Scientific Committee was established and had its first meeting in Washington DC. Riccardo Giacconi was appointed Chairman and John Mester Co-Chairman.

On September 21, 2005 the Director of ICRANet signed, together with the then Ambassador of Brazil in Rome Dante Coelho De Lima the adhesion of the Federative Republic of Brazil to ICRANet. The entrance of Brazil, requested by the then President of Brazil Luiz Ignácio Lula Da Silva has been unanimously ratified by the Brazilian Parliament. On August 12, 2011, the then President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff signed the entrance of Brazil in ICRANet.[5]

Marcel Grossmann meetings[edit]

By the beginning of the twentieth century the new branch of mathematics, tensor calculus, was developed in the works of Gregorio Ricci Curbastro and Tullio Levi Civita of the University of Padua and the University of Rome "La Sapienza". Marcel Grossmann of the University of Zurich who had a deep knowledge of the Italian school of geometry and who was close to Einstein introduced to him these concepts. The collaboration between Einstein and Grossmann was essential for the development of General Relativity.

Remo Ruffini and Abdus Salam in 1975 established the Marcel Grossmann meetings (MG) on Recent Developments in Theoretical and Experimental General Relativity, Gravitation, and Relativistic Field Theories,[6] which take place every three years in different countries, gathering more then 1000 researchers. MG1 and MG2 were held in 1975 and in 1979 in Trieste; MG3 in 1982 in Shanghai; MG4 in 1985 in Rome; MG5 in 1988 in Perth; MG6 in 1991 in Kyoto; MG7 in 1994 at Stanford; MG8 in 1997 in Jerusalem; MG9 in 2000 in Rome; MG10 in 2003 in Rio de Janeiro; MG11 in 2006 in Berlin; MG12 in 2009 in Paris; MG13 in 2012 in Stockholm; MG14 in 2015 and MG15 in 2018 both in Rome. Since its foundation, ICRANet has always played a leading role in the organization of those meetings.

Celebration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009[edit]

ICRANet has been Organizational Associate[7] of the International Year of Astronomy 2009[8] and supported the global coordination of IYA2009 financially. In this occasion ICRANet organized a series of international meetings[9] under the general title "The Sun, the Star, the Universe and General Relativity" including: the 1st Zeldovich meeting[10] (Minsk, Belarus), the Sobral Meeting[11] (Fortaleza, Brazil), the 1st Galileo - Xu Guangqi meeting[12] (Shanghai, China), the 11th Italian-Korean Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics[13] (Seoul, South Korea) and the 5th Australasian Conference - Christchurch Meeting[14] (Christchurch, New Zealand).

Celebration of the International Year of Light 2015[edit]

Under the initiative of the United Nations and UNESCO, 2015 was declared the and as the International Year of Light, and it represented the centenary of the formulation of the equations of general relativity by Albert Einstein, and the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of relativistic astrophysics.[15] ICRANet was a "Bronze Associate" sponsor of those celebrations.[16]

In 2015, ICRANet also organized a series of international meetings[17] including: the Second ICRANet César Lattes Meeting[18] (Niterói – Rio de Janeiro – João Pessoa – Recife – Fortaleza, Brazil), the International Conference on Gravitation and Cosmology[19] / the 4th Galileo-Xu Guangqi meeting[20] (Beijing, China), Fourteenth Marcel Grossmann Meeting[21] - MG14 (Rome, Italy), the 1st ICRANet Julio Garavito Meeting on Relativistic Astrophysics[22] (Bucaramanga – Bogotá, Colombia), the 1st Sandoval Vallarta Caribbean Meeting on Relativistic Astrophysics[23] (Mexico City, Mexico).

Organization and structure[edit]

The organization consists of the Director, the Steering Committee and the Scientific Committee. The members of committees are representatives of the countries and member institutions. ICRANet has a number of permanent Faculty positions. Their activities are supported by administrative staff and secretariat personnel. ICRANet financing is based by Statute on the funds provided by the governments and by voluntary contributions, donations.

Director of ICRANet is Remo Ruffini.

In 2018 the Steering Committee consists of:[24]

  • Armenia: Haik Harutyunian
  • Brazil: Gilberto Kassab, Minister of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications
  • ICRA: Remo Ruffini
  • Italy:
    1. Italian Foreign Ministry, Unità Scientifica e Tecnologica Bilaterale e Multilaterale: Min. Plen. Fabrizio Nicoletti, Cons. Enrico Padula, Immacolata Pannone
    2. Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ragioneria Generale dello Stato, IGAE, Uff. IX: Dr. Antonio Bartolini, Dr. Salvatore Sebastiano Vizzini
    3. MIUR: Dr. Vincenzo Di Felice, Dott.ssa Giulietta Iorio
    4. Pescara Municipality: Avv. Carlo Masci
  • Stanford University: Francis Everitt
  • University of Arizona: Xiaohui Fan
  • Vatican City State: Guy J. Consolmagno, S.J.

The current Chairperson (2018) of ICRANet Steering Committee is Francis Everitt.

The first Chairperson of the Scientific Committee was Riccardo Giacconi, Nobel Prize for Physics in 2002, who ended his term in 2013. The actual (2018) Chairperson of the Scientific Committee is Massimo Della Valle.

The Scientific Committee in 2018 consists of:[25] Prof. Narek Sahakyan (Armenia), Dr. Carlo Luciano Bianco (ICRA), Prof. Massimo Della Valle (Italy), Prof. John Mester (Stanford University), Prof. David Arnett (University of Arizona) and Dr. Gabriele Gionti (Vatican City State).

The Faculty[26] in 2018 consists of Professors Ulisses Barres de Almeida, Vladimir Belinski, Carlo Luciano Bianco, Donato Bini, Pascal Chardonnet, Christian Cherubini, Filippi Simonetta, Robert Jantzen, Roy Patrick Kerr, Hans Ohanian, Giovanni Pisani, Brian Mathew Punsly, Jorge Rueda, Remo Ruffini, Gregory Vereshchagin, and She-Sheng Xue, and is supported by an Adjunct Faculty[27] made up of more than 30 internationally renowned scientists participating in ICRANet activities, and between eighty "Lecturers"[28] and "Visiting Professors"[29]. Among these are the Nobel Laureates Riccardo Giacconi, Murray Gell-Mann, Theodor Hänsch, Gerard ’t Hooft and Steven Weinberg.

Member states and institutions[edit]

Currently ICRANet members are four countries and three Universities and research centers.

Member states:

Country Date joined
 Republic of Armenia 2003
 Federal Republic of Brazil 2011
 Italian Republic 2003
  Vatican City State 2003

Member institutions:

Institution Date joined
University of Arizona (USA) 2003
Stanford University (USA) 2003
ICRA 2003

ICRANet has signed collaboration agreements with over 57 institutions, universities and research centers in different countries.[30]

ICRANet seats and centers[edit]

The network is composed of several seats and centers. Seat agreements, establishing rights and privileges, including extraterritoriality, have been signed for the seat in Pescara in Italy, for the seat in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and for the seat in Yerevan in Armenia. The Seat Agreement for Pescara[31] has been ratified on May 13, 2010. The Seat agreement for Yerevan has been unanimously approved[32] by the Parliament of the Republic of Armenia on November 13, 2015.

High speed optical fiber connection with different locations are made possible by the connection to the pan-European data network for the research and education community (GÉANT) through the GARR network.

Currently ICRANet centers[33] are operative at:

  • ICRANet Headquarters in Pescara, Italy
  • The Department of Physics of University "La Sapienza" (Rome, Italy);
  • Villa Ratti (Nice, France);
  • The Presidium of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences (Yerevan, Armenia);
  • CBPF – Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Físicas (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil);
  • Isfahan University of Technology (Isfahan, Iran);
  • National Academy of Science of Belarus (Minsk, Belarus).

ICRANet Centers in Pescara, Rome and Nice[edit]

ICRANet headquarters are located in Pescara, Italy. This center coordinates ICRANet activities and yearly meetings of the Scientific and the Steering committees are usually held there. International meetings such as the Italian-Korean Symposia on Relativistic Astrophysics[34] are regularly held in this center. Scientific activities in Pescara center include the fundamental research on the early cosmology by the Russian school guided by Vladimir Belinski.

Activities of the ICRANet Seat at Villa Ratti in Nice include the coordination of the IRAP PhD program, as well as scientific activities connected with the ultra high energy observations by the University of Savoy and the VLT observations performed by the Côte d’Azur Observatory, which involve the thesis works of IRAP PhD students. The University of Savoy is the closest French lab to the CERN.

ICRANet Pescara.jpg Sapienza entrance (20040201351).jpg Villa Ratti.jpg
ICRANet Headquarters in Pescara (Italy). The University of Rome "La Sapienza" where the Physics Department hosts ICRANet center in Rome (Italy). ICRANet seat in Nice (France).

ICRANet Center in Armenia[edit]

Since January 2014, the ICRANet Center in Yerevan[35] has been established the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia (NAS RA)[36], at Marshall Baghramian Avenue, 24a. Scientific activities in this center are coordinated by the Director, Dr. Narek Sahakyan. In Armenia, the ICRANet center collaborates with other scientific institutions from the Academy and Universities, and provides to organize joint international meetings and workshops, summer schools for PhD students and mobility programs for scientists in the field of Astrophysics. ICRANet center in Armenia coordinates ICRANet activities in the area of Central-Asian and Middle-Eastern countries.

In 2014, the Government of the Republic of Armenia approved the Agreement to establish the ICRANet international center in Armenia. The seat agreement has been signed in Rome on February 14, 2015 by the director of ICRANet, Remo Ruffini and the Ambassador of Armenia in Italy, Mr. Sargis Ghazaryan. On November 13, 2015 the Parliament of the Republic of Armenia unanimously the Seat Agreement.[32]

A summer school and an international scientific conference dedicated to the issues of Relativistic Astrophysics "1st Scientific ICRANet Meeting in Armenia: Black Holes: the largest energy sources in the Universe" were held in Armenia from June 28 to July 4, 2014.[37][38]

ICRANet Center in Brazil[edit]

Entrance of CBPF, where ICRANet seat in Rio de Janeiro is located.

The Seat of ICRANet in Rio de Janeiro has been activated, at first in the premises granted by CBPF; with the possible expansion to the Cassino da Urca. A school of Cosmology and Astrophysics is being developed jointly with Brazilian institutions. The 2nd ICRANet César Lattes Meeting devoted to relativistic astrophysics was held in Rio de Janeiro in 2015.[18]

Currently (2018) ICRANet has signed scientific collaboration agreements with 175 Brazilian universities, institutions and research centers.[39]

There are two specific programs initiated by ICRANet, which are underway (2018):

  • the possibility of restructuring the mountain side of the Cassino da Urca as the Seat of ICRANet for Brazil and Latin America (with a project by the Italian Architect Carlo Serafini),
  • building of the Brazilian Science Data Center (BSDC), a novel astrophysics data base, built following the concept of the ASI Science Data Center (ASDC) by the Italian Space Agency, which will consist on a unique research infrastructure at the interface between experimental and theoretical astrophysicists.

ICRANet Center in Minsk[edit]

The ICRANet-Minsk center has been established at the National Academy of Science of Belarus (NASB), with whom ICRANet has signed a cooperation agreement on 2013[40][41]. On April 2016 has been signed the Protocol for the realization of the official Belarusian seat in Minsk of the International Center for Relativistic Astrophysics Network[42][43]. The "First ICRANet-Minsk workshop on high energy astrophysics" has been held at the ICRANet-Minsk center from 26 to 28 of April 2017[44].

ICRANet Center in Isfahan[edit]

The ICRANet Center in Isfahan has been established at the Isfahan University of Technology. The Protocol of cooperation[45], signed in 2016 by Remo Ruffini, Director of ICRANet, and Mahnoud Modarres-Hashemi, Rector of the Isfahan University of Technology, includes the promotion and development of scientific and technological research in the fields of cosmology, gravitation and relativistic astrophysics. It also includes the organization of joint international conferences and workshops, institutional exchanges for students, researchers and faculty members.

ICRANet Centers in USA[edit]

The present Chairman of the ICRANet Steering Committee Francis Everitt is responsible for the ICRANet Center at the Leland Stanford Junior University. His special activity has been the conception, development, launch and data acquisition, all the way to the elaboration of the final data analysis, of the NASA Gravity Probe B mission, one of the most complex physics experiment in space ever performed.

The first Chairman of the ICRANet Steering Committee Fang Li-Zhi developed collaboration with the Physics Department of the University of Arizona in Tucson. The collaboration with its Astronomy Department is promoted by David Arnett.

ICRANet and IRAP PhD program[edit]

Since 2005 ICRANet co-organizes an International Ph.D. program in Relativistic Astrophysics — International Relativistic Astrophysics Ph.D. Program, IRAP-PhD, the first joint PhD astrophysics program.

Scientific research at ICRANet[edit]

ICRANet aims are training/education and research in the field of relativistic astrophysics.

The main activities of ICRANet are addressed to promote the international scientific co-operation; for this purpose many projects of scientific research in the domain of relativistic astrophysics, cosmology, theoretical physics and mathematical physics are being carried out.

The main areas of scientific research in ICRANet[46] are:

Between 2006 and early 2015, ICRANet has produced over 1800 scientific publications in refereed journals such as Physical Review, the Astrophysical Journal, Astronomy and Astrophysics etc., in its various lines of research.

New scientific concepts and terms introduced by ICRANet scientists:

Black hole (Ruffini, Wheeler 1971)[47]

Ergosphere (Rees, Ruffini, Wheeler, 1974)[48]

Pursue and plunge (Rees, Ruffini, Wheeler, 1974)[48]

Black hole mass formula (Christodoulou, Ruffini, 1971)[49]

Reversible and irreversible transformations of black holes (Christodoulou, Ruffini, 1971)[49]

Dyadosphere (Damour, Ruffini, 1975; Preparata, Ruffini, Xue, 1998)[50][51]

Dyadotorus (Cherubini et al., 2009)[52]

Induced Gravitational Collapse (Rueda, Ruffini, 2012)[53]

Binary-driven Hypernova (Ruffini et al., 2014)[54]

Cosmic matrix (Ruffini et al., 2015)[55]

Other activities[edit]

International meetings[edit]

IK meetings

The Italian-Korean Symposia on Relativistic Astrophysics[56] is a series of biannual meetings organized alternatively in Italy and in Korea since 1987. The symposia cover topics in astrophysics and cosmology, such as gamma ray bursts and compact stars, high energy cosmic rays, dark energy and dark matter, general relativity, black holes, and new physics related to cosmology.

The Galileo-Xu Guangqi meetings

The Galileo-Xu Guangqi meetings[57] have been created in the name of Galileo and Xu Guangqi, the collaborator of Matteo Ricci (Ri Ma Dou), generally recognized for bringing to China the works of Euclid and Galileo and for his strong commitment to the process of modernization and scientific development of China. The 1st Galileo - Xu Guangqi Meeting[58] was held in Shanghai, China in 2009. The 2nd Galileo - Xu Guangqi meeting took place in Hanbury Botanic Gardens (Ventimiglia, Italy) and Villa Ratti (Nice, France) in 2010. The 3rd and 4th Galileo - Xu Guangqi meetings were held in Beijing, China in 2011 and 2015, respectively.

Stueckelberg Workshops on Relativistic Field Theories

These workshops represent a one-week dialogues on Relativistic Field Theories in Curved Space, which is inspired to the work of E. C. G. Stueckelberg and is named the Stueckelberg Workshops.[59] These meetings included invited lectures by Abhay Ashtekar, Thomas Thiemann, Gerard 't Hooft and Hagen Kleinert.

Other meetings

ICRANet also organized:

  • six Italian-Sino Workshops[60] on Cosmology and Relativistic Astrophysics, held in Pescara every year from 2004 to 2009 except for the 5th Italian-Sino Workshop held in Teipei-Hualian, Taiwan in 2008.
  • two ICRANet Cesar Latter meetings[61] and The 1st URCA meeting on Relativistic Astrophysics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • two Zeldovich meetings[62] in Minsk, Belarus.

PhD schools[edit]

Within IRAP PhD program ICRANet is organizing PhD schools, in particular 15 schools were held in Nice and Les Houches, France, within EMJD program.[63]

ICRANet visiting program[edit]

ICRANet has developed a program[64] of visits for scientific collaboration with short and long duration.

Prominent personalities have carried out their activities at ICRA and ICRANet, among them are: Francis Everitt, Chairman of the Scientific Committee of ICRANet, Isaak Khalatnikov, Russian physicist and former director of the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics from 1965 to 1992; Roy Kerr, New Zealand mathematician and discoverer of the "Kerr Metric"; Thibault Damour; Demetrios Christodoulou; Hagen Kleinert; Neta and John Bachall; Tsvi Piran; Charles Misner; Robert Williams; José Gabriel Funes; Fang Li-Zhi; Rashid Sunyaev.

Weekly seminars[edit]

ICRANet co-organizes a Joint Astrophysics Seminar[65] at the Department of Physics of University "La Sapienza" and ICRA in Rome. All institutions collaborating with ICRANet as well as ICRANet centers are participating in these seminars in the regime of video conference.

Brazilian Science Data Center[edit]

The main objective of the Brazilian Science Data Center[66] (BSDC) is to provide data of all international space missions existing on the wavelength of X- and gamma rays, and later on the whole electromagnetic spectrum, for all the galactic and extragalactic sources of the Universe. A special attention will be paid to the achievement and the complete respect of the levels defined by the International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA). In addition to these specific objectives, BSDC will promote technical seminars, annual workshops and it will assure a plan of scientific divulgation and popularization of science with the aim of the understanding of the Universe.

The BSDC is currently being implemented at CBPF, and at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), and will be expanded to all other ICRANet centers in Brazil as well as to the other Latin-American ICRANet Centers in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico: a unique coordinated continental research network planned for Latin America.


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External links[edit]