Paolo Privitera
Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics; Enrico Fermi Institute; and the College

Education: Laurea 1989 (Physics) Bologna, Italy; PhD 1993 (Physics) Karlsruhe, Germany

Phone: 773-702-2983 (Secretary Yolanda Davis, 773-702-7861)
Location: LASR 201

Affiliations: Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics

Experimental physics, ultra-high energy cosmic rays
Publications: ADS | arXiv | inSPIRE

Research Fields:
Privitera is pursuing the challenging task of discovering the origin of ultra-high energy cosmic rays (>1019 eV). The Pierre Auger Observatory, with its 3000 km2 of effective detection area, is the largest cosmic ray detector ever built. Privitera has given major contributions in the design, construction and data analysis of the Fluorescence Detector, which observe the fluorescence light from the nitrogen molecules excited by the cosmic ray shower particles along their path in the atmosphere. The first data collected by the Auger Observatory, published in Science, are suggesting a correlation of ultra-high energy cosmic rays with nearby extragalactic astrophysical objects, opening a new field of particle astronomy (see 2007 top science stories).

Privitera is also leading the AIRFLY experiment for an accurate determination of the energy scale of ultra-high energy cosmic rays detected with the fluorescence technique. The spectral properties of the fluorescence emission of nitrogen molecules, as well as its pressure, temperature and humidity dependence, are being measured by AIRFLY with electron beams at several accelerators ( Frascati, Argonne National Laboratory).

As an experimental particle physicist, Privitera worked for the DELPHI experiment at the LEP e+ e- collider (CERN, Geneva), with main contributions in the measurement of the properties of the Z and W bosons, in the physics of the τ lepton and of the b quark.

Scientific Projects

Graduate Students
Past Graduate Students: Nicholas Hollon (2013)

Teaching Courses
  • [ASTR 43100] Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays: 2014 - 2015 (Autumn)

Past courses:
  • [ASTR 28200] Current Topics in Astrophysics: 2009 - 2010 (Spring)
  • [ASTR 43100] Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays: 2008 - 2009 (Autumn)
  • [ASTR 49900] Graduate Research Seminar: 2013 - 2014 (Autumn)

Department Committees

Past Department Committees: