Francesco Palla, 1954 – 2016

FrancescoPallaDuring the night between 26 and 27 January, Professor Francesco Palla died unexpectedly in Rolle, Switzerland, where he was to attend a meeting of the Council of the European Astronomical Society.

He was born in Rome in 1954, where he completed all his studies including a degree in Physics at the University of La Sapienza. After a research fellowship at the Department of Astronomy at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, he became an astronomer at the Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory in Florence, where he served as Director from 2005 to 2011.

He was a leading expert in the field of research concerning the origin and evolution of stars and planetary systems in our Galaxy and in the early universe, and was the co-author of one of the most authoritative texts on the subject, "The Formation of Stars".  He also taught the course on the interstellar medium at the University of Florence.
From 2011, Francesco Palla was part of the Council of the European Astronomical Society, and was Editor-in-Chief of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Review. He has always been deeply engaged in outreach and education for the public and inschools, and served as President of the Association of Astronomy Friends of Arcetri (Associazione Astronomica Amici di Arcetri).

The president of INAF, Nicolo' D'Amico, comments "The unexpected loss of Francesco Palla finds us incredulous and sick at heart. He was a scientist and a person of profound culture and understanding, and for all of us constituted an authoritative point of reference. His talents, intelligence, and good-natured disposition will be, for us, unforgettable."