Maria Teresa Belmonte UVa
atomic spectroscopy - measurement of atomic parameters – laboratory astrophysics

María Teresa Belmonte Sainz-Ezquerra

Physics Plasma Spectroscopy Laboratory
My research career

In 2011 I graduated in Physics from the University of Valladolid. After performing collaborative research tasks in the Plasma Spectroscopy Laboratory of this university during the last two years of the degree, I continued my work in this laboratory during the Master in Physics (2012) and the PhD thesis. During the PhD I made several research stays at the University of Novi Sad (Serbia) and Imperial College London (UK).

After obtaining my PhD with International mention in Plasma Spectroscopy in 2016 from the University of Valladolid, I joined the Fourier Spectroscopy Laboratory at Imperial College London as a Research Associate in Laboratory Astrophysics. During my postdoctoral stage I maintained a close collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, USA) where I made a research stay and with the University of Lund (Sweden), leading institutions in the field of spectroscopy and atomic physics.

In April 2021 I joined the Department of Theoretical, Atomic and Optical Physics of the University of Valladolid with a Beatriz Galindo Junior Distinguished Researcher contract. My research project aims to reopen the Plasma Spectroscopy Laboratory and to create an international research group in close collaboration with NIST, Lund University and Imperial College London, institution to which I am still attached as an Academic Visitor.

My research

I study the structure of different atoms experimentally by analyzing the light they emit when excited by generating a plasma. The light emitted depends intimately on the structure of the atom, constituting the fingerprint of each chemical element.

Since most of our knowledge about the cosmos comes from spectroscopic analysis of the radiation we receive from stars, galaxies and other astronomical objects, the atomic data we measure are vital for astronomers to study the chemical composition of the universe.

The great lack of such atomic data is the main obstacle to the interpretation and analysis of the spectra obtained by state-of-the-art telescopes in the field of astronomy.

My vision is to create an international research group of reference in the measurement of atomic parameters that works in close collaboration with astronomers and actively promotes the training of the next generation of spectroscopists, essential to continue the research needed in the medium and long term to solve some of the most exciting questions about the origin of the chemical elements in the universe.