Prof.dr. Lex Kaper has been appointed as the vice dean and director of education at the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam in 2019.
Lex Kaper is full professor Observational Astrophysics and Instrument Development at the University of Amsterdam and adjunct professor Education in Astronomy at the VU University Amsterdam. He obtained his PhD (cum laude) at the University of Amsterdam in 1993, and worked for four years at the Headquarters of the European Southern Observatory in Garching near Munich (Germany). He returned at the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy in 1998 with a Royal Academy fellowship. Kaper is the NL-PI of X-shooter, the most powerful spectrograph in the world, mounted on the ESO Very Large Telescope in 2009. He is the NL-PI of MOSAIC, the multi-object spectrograph for the ESO Extremely Large Telescope (2025), the biggest eye on the sky. Kaper is vice president of the European Astronomical Society.
His research group works on the formation, evolution and fate of massive stars. Recent research highlights include the spectroscopic identification of young massive stars that are still on their way to become main-sequence stars, the spectroscopic exploration of massive stars in the Local Group and beyond, and the study of distant galaxies hosting gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful cosmic explosions. A key observation has been the detection of the optical counterpart of the gravitational wave source GW170817 caused by the merging event of two neutron stars. VLT/X-shooter spectra of the corresponding kilonova demonstrated that such events are the production sites of heavy elements such as the lanthanides. He has also been involved in searches for variations in the fundamental constants of nature. Kaper teaches the Master’s course Stellar Populations.
Massive stars, star formation, stellar evolution, gamma-ray bursts, spectroscopy