Luca Malavolta


Luca Malavolta, INAF – Astrophysical Observatory of Catania, Italy

Role: Leader of the PSM WPs 131 250 and 131 320

I obtained the Master degree in Astronomy in 2009 and the PhD on Astronomy in 2013, both at the University of Padova, with a thesis focused on exploring the limits of atmospheric stellar parameters and radial velocity determination on spectra with extremely low signal-to-noise ratios, on large ensemble of stars. While obtaining his PhD, his research topic moved from globular clusters to exoplanets, with a particular interest of the properties of the star such as its fundamental parameters and its activity level. After spending my post-doc years in Padova and abroad at the University of Texas at Austin, the Observatory of Geneva and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, I am now a staff researcher at INAF – Observatory of Catania.

I am part of the Global Architecture of Planets project (GAPS, now evolved into GAPS2) and the HARPS-N Guaranteed Time Observations consortium since the first days of operation of the HARPS-N spectrograph at the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo. My research focuses on the internal composition of super-Earths and mini-Neptunes by accurately measuring their radius, using photometry from Kepler, TESS, and PLATO in the future, and by determining their mass with different techniques such as radial velocities and transit timing variations, without forgetting to model the effect of stellar activity on our observations. I am also involved in several surveys to discover planetary systems around young stars in associations and open clusters, and recently I started to work on the analysis of exoplanet atmospheres with high-resolution transmission spectroscopy.

In PLATO, I am Leader of WP 131 250 (Large Spectroscopic Catalogue) and WP 131 320 (Spectroscopic Data) and also member of WPs 111 000 (Coordination of Tools for Lightcurve Filtering) and 115 100 (Astrophysical Noise Source). In this project I’m bringing my expertise in large spectroscopic datasets and the detection of planets in presence of stellar activity, with the ultimate goal of discovering the first true Earth analog.