Paolo Padovani

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Paolo Padovani is an Italian astronomer working at the European Southern Observatory, specializing in the study of Active galactic nuclei including the study of quasars and blazars, evolution and multifrequency studies and extragalactic backgrounds.[1][2]In 2004 he and several other astronomers discovered 30 supermassive blackholes at the European Astrophysical Virtual Observatory using pioneering techniques.[3][4]


He received his Ph.D in Astronomy from the University of Padova in 1989.[2] As head of the Virtual Observatory Project Office he was part of the team that discovered 30 previously hidden supermassive black holes outside the Milky Way.[3][4] He was published more than 70 peer reviewed articles.[2][5] His research interests include Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) radio sources, blazars, united schemes, deep radio surveys etc.[2]From 1997 and 2003 he worked as an archive scientist for the European Space Agency (ESA) at the Multi-mission Archive at Space Telescope (MAST) in Baltimore.In 2004 he became head of the VO systems department at ESO and has since headed the data management and operations division of the ESO since June 2008.[2]He has been a member of the International Astronomical Union since 1994.[2]Padovani worked with Meg Urry in the mid 1990s in the field of radio quasars and powerful radio galaxies.[6]

In 2004, Padovani and several other astronomers at the European Astrophysical Virtual Observatory (AVO), coordinated between the Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility and the European Southern Observatory in Munich discovered 30 supermassive black holes which were previously obscured by dust clouds.[3]It was the first scientific discovery to emerge from a Virtual Observatory.[3]Padovani and the team used a pioneering technique in which they combined information from multiple wavelengths from Hubble, ESO’s telescope and NASA's Chandra and used virtual observatory tools.[3] According to Paolo Padovani, “This discovery means that surveys of powerful supermassive black holes have so far underestimated their numbers by at least a factor of two, and possibly by up to a factor of five.”[3] According to Peter Quinn, director of the AVO, the virtual observatory observations are the future of astronomy and will facilitate more discoveries in the future."[3][7]


  1. ^ Robinson, Andrew; Terlevich, Roberto (1994). The nature of compact objects in active galactic nuclei: proceedings of the 33rd Herstmonceux conference, held in Cambridge, July 6-22 [i.e. 16-22], 1992. Cambridge University Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-521-46480-2. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Paolo Padovani's CV, retrieved 2011-01-05.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Discovering Missing Black Holes: First Science From A Virtual Observatory, ScienceDaily, June 1, 2004.
  4. ^ a b Massive black holes common in early Universe, NewScientist, June 2, 2004.
  5. ^ ESO webpage
  6. ^ Kembhavi, Ajit K.; Narlikar, Jayant Vishnu (1999). Quasars and active galactic nuclei: an introduction. Cambridge University Press. p. 373. ISBN 978-0-521-47989-9. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  7. ^ European Southern Observatory (1 January 2004). Mensajero. European Southern Observatory. p. 22. Retrieved 6 January 2011.