Belgian astronomer Conny Aerts receives Kavli Prize in Oslo

Conny Aerts, astronomer at the KU Leuven, officially received the Kavli Prize for astrophysics in the Norwegian capital Oslo on Tuesday. The Kavli Prize is the highest scientific distinction after the Nobel Prizes. Aerts shares the prize, which is worth 1 million euros, with the American Roger Ulrich and the Dane Jørgen Christensen-Dalsgaard.

It had already been announced at the beginning of June that the trio would be taking home the Kavli Prize. The official ceremony in Oslo was scheduled for Tuesday. Aerts is the first Belgian who is a laureate. She, together with Ulrich and Christensen-Dalsgaard, is being honoured for their work, which has formed the basis of the current theory of star structures.

Aerts is known for her research into stars that are hotter and heavier than the sun. She developed smart analysis methods to identify the characteristics of measured vibrations of stars. Aerts and her research group pioneered the development of methods to model the pulsation modes in rapidly rotating stars, which led to the first quantitative estimates of the mass of their cores and of their internal rotation. Her team's results led to significant improvements in the theory of star evolution.

In 2012, the astronomer won the Francqui Prize, an important Belgian award. In 2020, it was followed by the Excellence Prize in the Exact Sciences from the Scientific Research Fund.

The Kavli Prize is awarded every two years. In addition to astrophysics, there are two other categories: nanoscience and neuroscience.


© BELGA PHOTO BRUNO FAHY - Conny Aerts ​ and Geert Molenberghs pictured during a reception with the royal couple for people who have been betstowed with the grace of nobility, on Thursday 17 November 2016, at the Royal Palace in Brussels.

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