Hi. I'm Lorenzo Spina.

I am an astrophysicist and a data scientist of the Astronomical Observatory of Padua with 7+ years of experience in top research institutes around the globe. I study our own Galaxy: how it is structured, how it formed, and how it evolves with time. For my research I analyse huge volumes of data gathered by the largest-scale stellar surveys ever undertaken, such as Gaia, APOGEE, Gaia-ESO, and GALAH. My task is to exploit this enormous body of data to its maximum potential.

I also study chemical signatures of planet engulfment events in Sun-like stars. I in interested in knowning the rate of planetary systems that undergo a very dynamical past culminating with the fall of planets into the central star. This research sheds light on the possible evolutionary paths of planetary systems and on the probability of finding analogues of our quiet Solar System. See our last paper Spina et al. (2021, Nature Astronomy).

Last but not the least, I am always excited to share my love for astronomy, and for the open spirit of scientific inquiry. I practice this most visibly through teaching and mentorship. I also actively promote and support outreach activities for students and the general public.


When, after so many efforts you have at last arrived at a certainty, your joy is one of the greatest which can be felt by a human soul.
— Louis Pasteur

Chemical evolution of the Milky Way

Our Galaxy is a factory that converts gas into stars and in the process it constantly evolves. Elements are fused into heavier ones by stars and then are dispersed into space, where they become the building blocks for a next generation of stars. Therefore, young stars have heavy elements in greater abundance than older ones. In my research I study this chemical build up and I use this knowledge to trace history of our Galaxy. (Image credit: Credit: NASA/Adler/U)

  • Spina et al., The GALAH survey: tracing the Galactic disk with Open Clusters, 2021, MNRAS, 503, 3279
  • Spina et al., The temporal evolution of neutron-capture elements in the Galactic discs, 2018, MNRAS, 474, 2580
  • Spina et al., The Gaia-ESO Survey: the present-day radial metallicity distribution of the Galactic disc probed by pre-main-sequence clusters, 2017, A&A, 601, 70
  • Spina et al., Nucleosynthetic history of elements in the Galactic disk. [X/Fe]-age relations from high-precision spectroscopy, 2016, A&A, 593, 125
  • Spina et al., The Gaia-ESO Survey: the first abundance determination of the pre-main-sequence cluster gamma Velorum, 2014, A&A, 567, 55
  • Spina et al., The Gaia-ESO Survey: Metallicity of the Chamaeleon I star-forming region, 2014, A&A, 568, 2
  • Do stars swallow their own planets?

    The answer is yes! ...and when this happens the planetary material can pollute the stellar atmosphere changing its chemical composition. I am hunting stars with anomalous chemical compositions characterised by the typical signatures planet engulfment events. (Image credit: Vanderbilt University)

  • Spina et al., Chemical evidence for planetary ingestion in a quarter of Sun-like stars, 2021, Nature Astronomy, in press
  • Spina et al., Chemical Inhomogeneities in the Pleiades: Signatures of Rocky-forming Material in Stellar Atmospheres, 2018, ApJ, 863, 179
  • Spina et al., The Gaia-ESO Survey: chemical signatures of rocky accretion in a young solar-type star, 2015, A&A, 582, L6
  • Spina et al., Planet signatures and effect of the chemical evolution of the Galactic thin-disk stars, 2016, A&A, 585, 152
  • Achievements

    If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.
    — Isaac Newton


    Peer-reviewed publications


    First author / supervising









    Media & Outreach


  • Segmento, June 2019
  • Astronomy Australia, March 2019
  • Astronomiamo, July 2018 (Italian)
  • New Scientist, June 2016
  • Media INAF, October 2015 (Italian)
  • Outreach

  • Astronomiamo, July 2017 (Italian, video)
  • Campanha SAMPA, April 2017 (Portuguese, video)
  • Astronomiamo, Jul 2016 (Italian, video)
  • Astronomiamo, October 2015 (Italian, video)