Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN)

M87 jet
M87 jet, NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) [Public domain]

Active galaxies are important to study the relations between the central Super Massive Black Hole (SMBH) and the galaxy properties. Population studies are also carried out with multi-frequency surveys to understand the physics and evolution of AGN properties of this class of sources. In particular, X-ray surveys and deep multi-wavelength observations (e.g. XMM-COSMOS, COSMOS Legacy, XMM XXL, XMM SERVS, CDFS, ELAIS, Herschel/PEP, J1030 field, SUBWAYS among others) are exploited to identify AGN in the key epoch of AGN-galaxy co-evolution and constrain the nature of diffuse X-Ray background. Follow-up observations in the optical and near infrared (e.g. with X-Shooter, SINFONI and SOFI data) are used to explore the effects on galaxy evolution of feedback from luminous Quasars at z~1-3, in terms of the study of their BH-host galaxy properties or kinematics properties. Accretion and ejection mechanisms are studied in the radio, infrared and X-rays (e.g. SUBWAYS project) to understand the complex physics of black holes and the impact on the host galaxies from the local Universe up to high redshifts.

The impact of AGN on the host galaxy is carried on also studying galaxies in the local and distant Universe, taking advantage of new sub-mm data from the ALMA telescope. Given the proximity of the local sources, it is possible to study in detail how the AGN radiation field impacts the physics of the molecular clouds in the interstellar medium, i.e. the sites where stars form. Moreover, samples of high and low power radio sources, young radio sources, Brightest Cluster Galaxies, and the faint radio population are investigated with radio interferometers and multi-wavelength data to understand the nature and origin of the radio loudness.

In 2016, the project Super Massive Black Holes, PI G. Giovannini, in collaboration with INAF-IRA, has been included among the strategic projects for the scientific collaboration between Italy and Japan by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Collaborators are the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). Many common scientific projects are now in progress in this context, including VLBI observations. The project includes the participation of the three Italian radio telescopes for common observations with the four radio telescopes in Japan. In 2018 PI G. Giovannini together with a large international team, published in Nature Astronomy the observations of 3C84 obtained with a Space VLBI observations including the Russian satellite RadioAstron and 29 radiotelescopes on the ground. Obtained images with an angular resolution of 30 micro-arcsec show the jet properties in the region from 100 to 10000 gravitational radii. A follow-up of this study is in progress.

Researchers of the present group are involved in the extended ROentgen Survey for an IMaging Telescope Array (eROSITA), the Fermi collaboration to observe the whole  sky in the Gamma-Ray band, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA; core members of Key-projects), the Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics (ATHENA), and in the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) project.

DIFA staff members

Marcella Brusa

Associate Professor

Andrea Cimatti

Full Professor

Daniele Dallacasa

Associate Professor

Gabriele Giovannini

Alma Mater Honorary Professor

Myriam Gitti

Associate Professor

Silvia Pellegrini

Associate Professor

Francesca Pozzi

Associate Professor

Cristian Vignali

Associate Professor

DIFA post-doc and PhD students


  • Center for Astrophysics (Cambridge MA, USA)
  • NRAO (USA)
  • European VLBI Network
  • Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe
  • Max Planck Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik (Germany)
  • European Southern Observatory


  • UniBo
  • Marie Curie grants
  • INAF