Community Profile: Antonio Stamerra

Name: Antonio Stamerra

Current position: Faculty

Affiliation: Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF, Roma) and Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS)

Field of research: The main field of research is the gamma-ray astronomy, performed with Cherenkov telescopes to investigate themes of high energy astrophysics and cosmic-rays production.


What is your career trajectory to date?

I have followed the usual path of many colleagues, with a PhD obtained in 2001 at the University of Turin, and a series of postdoc positions at the University of Siena, at DESY-Zeuthen, to the INFN in Pisa, to land eventually at the INAF Observatory in Rome. During this evolution, I did contribute and participate in the MAGIC collaboration at different stages of science and managing activities, and I am presently the scientific coordinator of the collaboration.

What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?

The very high-energy Universe is a book that is providing several fresh twists in its plot which develops through the basic processes in violent phenomena, like gamma-ray bursts, active galactic nuclei, and the sites of production of cosmic rays (the Pevatrons). Putting the pieces together is an engaging challenge: how does gamma-ray production happen in jetted sources (GRB, AGN) and how can they be used to better understand other processes like gravitational waves, the cosmic voids (IGMF, EBL), and the evolution of the Universe? How can we identify the sources producing high-energy neutrinos through their gamma-ray emission? How can we proceed with the investigation of dark matter through gamma-rays, given the present contraints that limit the parameter space of CDM?

What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?

The interaction with motivated people and tackling together fundamental questions on how the energetic Universe works are definitely the most stimulating part of my work. The possibility to inform the people about our advances, through the outreach activities, is also an important aspect. Still, our activity is also burdened by some formal tasks, related to coordination, funding calls, and other bureaucratic duties, which, although some of them needed to support the research, are also time-consuming and definitely less appealing.

Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful?

Scientifically I feel comfortable when dealing with data from different instruments, and trying to get a common view and a more general interpretation of such different sets. From the coordination side, I like dealing with people and trying to solve problems happening when a project is carried on by ethereogenoeus groups, sometimes with different views or approaches to the same problems.

What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to?

I have two main results that I am waiting for in the next years. The possibility to detect gamma-ray emission over tenths of GeV from gravitational waves counterparts, and enlarging the volume of the Universe explorable through gamma-rays. The detection of GW with gamma-rays would offer a new view of the processes leading to the afterglow emission. The lowering of the energy threshold by the next Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) will offer the opportunity to observe blazars, AGN, and GRB at larger distances (z>~1) and to verify the impact of the most energetic processes in the cosmological evolution.

What is the biggest obstacle that is slowing down your research field right now?

The formal appointment to projects and funding calls not strictly related to my field are definitely affecting the time I can offer to more engaging and interesting topics related to my research interests.

What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe?

The possibility of cross-fertilization and research exchange between the Astroparticle and Cosmology will give the opportunity to the two different communities to look at similar problems differently and to overcome the usual barrier between groups working with different methods and sometimes even different terminology.

What’s your favorite food?

Food is connected and enlightens the culture of the society where it is prepared. I do not have a single preference, but whatever is done with care deserves my attention!

Do you have any non-physics interests that you would like to share?

At present, I try to dedicate my time to playing tennis and watching movies with my family. Not all of them unfortunately succeed when tough deadlines need to be met.

If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?

No idea...

What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?

I am sure that a common wish by many of us is to understand what dark matter and dark energy are and to provide a coherent theory including them. Still, I find intriguing the possibility to reach little (but still important) goals, such us the measurement of the IGMF, a clear determination of the sources of high-energy neutrinos and the characterization of the properties of GRB and GW that bring to the emission of very high energy gamma-rays.