Astrophysics Division
CEA Saclay

UMR Astrophysics Instrumentation Modelisation

picto-accueil Our research laboratories


Mar 20th, 2019

Smoke signals from the massive black hole of the Galaxy


Mar 4th, 2019

New dark galaxies discovered in the depths of the Universe


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May 21st, 2019

Behind the image: first analysis of the black hole shadow in M87


Jun 4th, 2019

Observational predictions of the presence of giant planets in the dust’s radio emission of protoplanetary discs


Jun 18th, 2019

Neutrino Physics with the PTOLEMY project


Jul 11th, 2019

Cosmology with Gravitational Lens Time Delays


Sep 10th, 2019



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The oscillations of the Sun are reflected by the planet Neptune


The observation program of the future giant space telescope JWST


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picto 1 Research laboratories


The Astrophysics Division

A major space astrophysics laboratory

The Service d'Astrophysique (SAp - UMR AIM) is among the major space laboratories in France, in Europe and internationally. In direct collaboration with CNES, which is responsible for the space activities of French laboratories, SAp is strongly involved in space missions for ESA's Cosmic Vision scientific program and on bilateral missions supported by CNES. The development of astrophysics at the CEA began in partnership with CNES since its creation in the early 1960s. Astrophysics has since been a growing science with high potential for discoveries. Instruments, ever more numerous and more powerful, whether from the ground or on board satellites, make it possible to probe the universe with increased angular resolution and sensitivity across the full range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Meanwhile, modeling, particularly using computational simulations, is of increasing importance in astrophysics; astrophysical problems are mostly complex problems that involve other disciplines of physics. Astrophysics and other fields of physics enrich each other.

The Astrophysics division

The SAp-UMR AIM includes nearly 200 people, including 130 permanent staff mainly UMR AIM, a joint research unit CNRS-CEA-Paris Diderot and also of the Astroparticle and Cosmology UMR APC, CEA-CNRS -University Denis Diderot-Paris Observatory. The Astrophysics Service brings together researchers, engineers and technicians from the Service d'Astrophysique at CEA Irfu as well as research engineers at Sedi Irfu, the Université Paris Diderot and CNRS.


Our scientific projects

picto 3Astrophysics

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Developing instruments

picto 4 Instrumentation

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Modelling the Universe

picto 5 Modelisation

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Knowledge management of data archives

picto 6 Data






Exploring the High Energy gamma ray sky

H.E.S.S   stands for "High Energy Stereoscopic System". This telescope system been designed and built by a large international collaboration which includes the DAPNIA as a member. This instrument is dedicated to the observation of high energy gamma ray sources with energies above a few tens of GeV.   The interaction of these very high energy gamma rays with the upper atmosphere creates a faint flash of blue light called "Cherenkov emission". This very fast (a few nanosecond) flash of light can be observed from the ground. Surveying the sky in the TeV energy range, which is observed by astrophysicists only since last two decades, allows the get an insight into the origin of cosmic rays and to study the acceleration of cosmic rays in various astrophysical objects such as supernovae remnants or active galactic nuclei.

The HESS experiment is located in NAMIBIA, on the Gamsberg highlands (latitude 23° 16' south, longitude 16° 30' east), at an altitude of 1800 m above sea level. It was named after a famous austrian physicist, Victor Hess (1883-1964),  who was awarded the Nobel price in physics in 1936 for discovering cosmic rays.
The HESS apparatus consists in four 12 meter telescopes at the corners of a square with 120 meter sides. Each of these telescopes has a camera at his focus.The camera are large arrays of 960 photomultipliers sensitive to blue light. These photomultipliers have a very fast response time, of the order of one nanosecond.
The sensitivity of HESS (the power to detect faint sources) is 10 times better than that of previous experiments (WHIPPLEHEGRA, CAT) with an energy threshold of 100 GeV.





An Infrared and Sub-millimetre Observatory

The Herschel telescope is a scientific space mission developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) dedicated to observing the Universe in the infrared and sub-millimetre ranges (wavelengths between 60 et 670 µm), a window of the electromagnetic spectrum that is still largely unexplored. It measures 9 m in length, 4 m in diameter and will weigh over 3 metric tons upon launch. Herschel arrived at ESA in January 2008 and will be launched by an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou on 31th, October 2008. It will then be, with its 3.5 m-diameter mirror, the largest telescope ever sent into space.

The main objectives of the mission are based on two approaches related to the question of Origins. Close to Earth, Herschel will probe the molecular clouds, which are true breeding grounds for young stars, with a view to understand the first stages in star formation. Further away, it will map out the heavens to discern galaxies at the time they were formed and thus enrich our attempts to explain the evolution of the Universe, from the Big Bang to the present.

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