14 October 2015
Pavel Naselsky appointed Professor
Pavel Naselsky has been appointed professor in the research group Theoretical Particle Physics and Cosmology at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen. He researches the very earliest universe using observations from the Planck Satellite, which can display images of the cosmic background radiation, which is an afterglow from the Big Bang. He is also the Principal Investigator of the DeepSpace project where a telescope will be placed on the Greenland ice sheet to observe radiation from the early universe.
Pavel Naselsky received his masters in physics in 1976 from Rostov State University in the Soviet Union (now Russia). He began his PhD studies at Rostov University, but he spent most of his time working at Moscow State University in a team led by the world-renowned Yakov Zeldovich. He completed his PhD in 1979.
If you really wanted to get the top, it required a doctorate, a Doktor of Science (dr.scient in Danish). There was fierce competition to get a doctorate, which only 5-10 percent of all PhDs received. Pavel Naselsky was one of the few and in 1989 he received his doctorate. He was under 40 at the time and it was quite unusual.
From the beginning of his research, Pavel Naselsky worked with the cosmological implications of the ‘evaporation’ of high-energy electrons from the black holes in the early universe. His pioneering work on the reactions of the original hydrogen in the universe showed that the release of energy (high-energy electrons) in this period delayed the transformation of the primeval universe’s ionised plasma into ordinary, neutral atoms. Since 1982, he has worked with the exploration and physics of the cosmic background radiation.
Pavel Naselsky worked closely with the astrophysicist and cosmologist Igor Novikov for more than 30 years. In 1991, Novikov became a professor at Nordita in Copenhagen and at the Niels Bohr Institute. In 1994, he received a grant from the Danish National Research Foundation and became the head of Denmark’s first Center for Theoretical Astrophysics.
In Russia, Pavel Naselsky had become both a professor and head of institute, but in 2000, Igor Novikov invited him to come to Denmark and participate in the Planck Mission, which is an international project that explores the primordial universe.
“To have the opportunity to participate in such a groundbreaking project like the Planck Mission was simply incredible for me as a researcher,” explains Pavel Naselsky and adds that he is very happy to live in Denmark and to be able to participate in international cooperation and have access to all of the data he needs.
He is one of the leading experts in analysing data and the last 15 years of scientific work in Denmark has resulted in more than 200 articles (and more than 12,000 citations) in the most prestigious journals like Astrophysical Journal Letters, Physical Review and others.
The Planck Satellite stopped two years ago, but the mission continues, as there is data for at least 15 years of work yet, he explains. He is also on the steering committee for the preparation of the next big mission, Core++, which will be an ESA project in collaboration with NASA and Japan, and he is the Principal Investigator of the project DeepSpace with a new telescope (from the University of California, Santa Barbara), which will be placed at Summit in the middle of the Greenland ice sheet to observe radiation from the early universe.
No doubt – Pavel Naselsky has found his right place in the universe – as a researcher of the creation and evolution of the universe and as a professor and group leader at the Niels Bohr Institute.