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Helmi, Prof. Amina

Amina Helmi
Amina Helmi

Amina Helmi (1970) is Professor of Dynamics, Structure and Formation of the Milky Way. Helmi wrote a groundbreaking PhD thesis (for which she was awarded the 2004 Christiaan Huygens Prize), shedding new light on the history and formation of the Milky Way by stating that it probably gradually merged with smaller galaxies. Helmi is searching for these separate galaxies (‘fossils’) and is thus a sort of astro-archaeologist, using the information from star fossils to reconstruct the formation of the Milky Way.

Helmi has been awarded a number of prestigious grants, including an NWO VIDI grant in 2003 and an ERC Starting Grant from the EU in 2009. She is an active member of numerous networks. In 2017 she has been elected as member of the KNAW, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Helmi is closely involved with the GAIA telescope, launched in 2013, which is providing very precise measurements to chart the Milky Way. II 2014 a team of scientists, including Helmi, published the first map of the spatial distribution of the mysterious matter in the almost empty space between stars, in Science. In 2015 she was awarded a VICI grant for her research, and in 2017 an NWO grant. In 2018 she and her research group were one of the first to be given the opportunity to study a second set of data from Gaia missions. She discovered that the Milky Way swallowed a major star system 10 billion years ago.

In 2019 Helmi was awarded the Spinoza Prize, the highest academic award in the Netherlands. Besides the great honour, the winner of the Spinoza Prize receives a research budget of EUR 2.5 million.

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Last modified:09 June 2023 8.36 p.m.
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