Franco Vazza


vazzaAstroFIt 2 – COFUND fellow since November 1, 2016.

Project ended on August 31, 2017.

INAF Research Centre: Istituto di Radioastronomia

Email: vazza at

Curriculum vitae

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Project title: COSWEBEXMAG – The Cosmic Web as a probe of Extragalactic Magnetism


On large scales cosmic matter is distributed in a web consistent of clusters, filaments, walls and voids. While the dark-matter skeleton of the cosmic web is closely traced by galaxies and galaxy clusters, the gaseous distribution has never been directly imaged at any wavelength. This situation might change within the next decade. Nonthermal components, relativistic particles and magnetic fields, are thought to have a spatial distribution that is broader than that of thermal baryons. For this reason the new generation of radio instruments that will survey the sky (LOFAR, MWA, ASKAP and the Square Kilometer Array) might be able to detect the tip of the iceberg from the rarefied intergalactic medium, provided that magnetic fields are sufficiently amplified in these regions.

The detectable signal is expected to be weak and complex because of the contribution from radio galaxies and to the presence of diffuse fore- and backgrounds. However, thanks to the developments proposed in this Astrofit2 project, I will be able to turn future radio observations into a unique probe into the growth of magnetic fields and into the acceleration of particles on cosmological scales. This will be possible through the theoretical exploration of scarcely studied plasma regimes with sophisticated numerical simulations. With these simulations I will be able to predict the specific radio signature of alternative scenarios for the origin of extragalactic fields. This will enable the community to interpret radio surveys in a quantitative way and to determine the origin of extragalactic magnetic fields, which is a longstanding puzzle connected to many questions in modern astrophysics. The legacy of this project will be its unprecedented quantitative vision of cosmic magnetism and particle acceleration on the largest scales in the Universe, also to the benefit of the Italian involvement in the Square Kilometer Array.  /