Congratulations to Dr Anna Lisa Varri who has won the 2019 Caroline Herschel Prize Lectureship

The Caroline Herschel Prize Lectureship supports promising female astronomers early in their careers.

Dr Anna Lisa Varri

Dr Varri works at the interface between astronomy, physics, and applied mathematics, specialising in the study of some of the most ancient structures in the Universe: globular clusters - dense groups of about a million stars emerged the dawn of the formation of galaxies. Her investigations have unveiled an unexpected degree of dynamical richness in these stellar systems and has brought a new, more realistic, perspective on their classical paradigm.

The new European space observatory Gaia can now observe these stellar systems with unprecedented detail and LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) has detected gravitational waves from merging binary black holes, possibly formed in dense cluster cores. A revolution in our understanding of these building blocks of our universe has therefore started. With a combination of applied mathematics techniques and numerical simulations, Anna Lisa studies how this new-generation data can shed light on three big questions in modern astrophysics: the origin of the first stellar aggregates, the existence of intermediate-mass black holes, and the nature of dark matter. 

She is a current recipient of an inaugural UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders award, is author of more than 30 papers, has initiated collaborations across disciplines with leading groups internationally, and is passionate about mentoring and public outreach.

Her Caroline Herschel Prize Lecture will be on ‘Small stellar systems, big astrophysical questions’.

The Caroline Herschel Prize Lectureship

The William Herschel Society, in association with the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), established the Caroline Herschel Prize Lectureship in 2018.  Siblings William, Caroline, and Alexander Herschel were astronomers in the early 19th century.    The Prize Lectureship was set up to celebrate Caroline’s memory by supporting promising female astronomers early in their careers. Caroline started out as William’s assistant, but in time became recognised as an important astronomer in her own right, was the first to be paid as such, and was awarded the RAS Gold Medal in 1828.