Contribution by Chilean astronomers

Chilean scientists educated at universities in the country have made discoveries with a global impact.


In a discipline that is above all developed by professionals from different countries, Chilean astronomers have made valuable contributions to scientific research with their work.

In early 2009 the joint techniques of Sebastián López and Felipe Barrientos led to the discovery that galaxies are capable of adjusting their size when they interact with others inside cumulous clouds.

In late 2008 a collective mainly comprised of Chileans took the first steps in the ambitious VVV project, Variable Views in the Milky Way, which will allow the creation of a three-dimensional map of the galaxy to study its birth and development.

Many members of the current generation of Chilean scientists took their first academic steps in the country. In fact, four institutions of higher learning offer Astronomy study programs.

Universidad de Chile’s Astronomy Department has its center of operations in the Cerro Calán National Astronomy Observatory. This is the facility with the longest tradition in the country, the heir to the first efforts to get involved in the discipline, which date back to the mid-19th century.

For its part, the Universidad Católica’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Department carries out both theoretical and observational research by having access to the four VLT telescopes at Paranal, Gemini South in Cerro Pachon, and the two Magellan telescopes at Las Campanas.

Further to the south, 500 km (310 miles) from Santiago, the Astronomy Department of Universidad de Concepción also provides higher academic studies in this field. It is run by foreigners, one of them the first graduate in postgraduate studies at a Chilean educational institution.

In the northern city of Antofagasta, the  Science Department of Universidad Católica del Norte offers an undergraduate degree in Physics with a mention in Astronomy and its graduates can gain experience in astronomy observatories and research centers, among others. It also has an active Astronomy Institute.