Athena School 2022

The universe in the era of spatially resolved high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy.

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Summary of the first Athena school

The Athena CNRS thematic school took place in Toulouse between 20th and 24th of June 2022. The school was attended by 20 students (permanent researchers, postdoc, PhD students, master students).

The Athena and XRISM missions were presented by Matteo Guanazzi, whilst Didier Barret introduced the X-IFU instrument and Vincent Albouys set forth the basis of space project management. Further lessons on the instrumental performances, calibrations and end-to-end-simulations ( Philippe Peille, Edoardo Cucchetti, Joern Wilms) completed the overview of the Athena mission. The students were given a full panorama of the Athena scientific objectives, through lectures on the Hot Universe (Nicolas Clerc and François Mernier), the Energetic Universe (Pierre-Olivier Petrucci and Joern Wilms) and observatory science (Anne Decourchelle and Natalie Webb). Fours practicals sessions (animated by Christian Kirsch, Edoardo Cucchetti, Philippe Peille) allowed the students to simulate Athena observations of various targets, as a step forward to apply the simulator to their own research topics.

Various social events allowed discussions and interactions between the students and teachers. A session of feedback and debriefing was organised at the end of the school for the benefit of the organisers in order to improve future editions.

A guest talk was given by Xavier Barcons, Director General of ESO, on ESO programmes and potential synergies with Athena.

The school was concluded by the scientific seminar of Susanna Vergani on Gamma-ray bursts and multi-messenger astronomy.

List of participants

  • Ahangar Asif Iqbal
  • Alaimo Edoardo
  • Amodeo Stefania
  • Arthur Léna
  • Bartalucci Iacopo
  • Blondin Stéphane
  • Castellani Florent
  • Cerardi Nicolas
  • Diez Camille
  • Dilruwan Dehiwalage Don
  • Ellien Amaël
  • Godinaud Leïla
  • Gonzalez Manuel
  • Kempf Jean
  • Lefkir Mehdy
  • Mignon-Risse Raphaël
  • Molin Alexeï
  • Parra Maxime
  • Pommier Mamta
  • Riva Giacomo
  • Theulé Patrice


To the presentations, material for the tutorials, photos


The first edition of the “Athena School: the Universe in the era of spatially resolved high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy” will take place from 20 to 24 June in Toulouse, France. This CNRS thematic school is open to the whole French astronomical community.

Registration closes on 30 April.


Athena (Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics) is ESA’s next generation X-ray observatory. It is the second large-class mission of its Cosmic Vision programme and the successor of current missions ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s Chandra. With its two focal plane instruments, the X-IFU (X-ray Integral Field Unit) and the WFI (Wide Field Imager), Athena will unveil the physics of the Hot and Energetic Universe through spatially resolved high-resolution X-ray spectroscopic observations. Athena will address two fundamental questions in astrophysics: 1) How did matter come together over time to form the Universe as we observe it today? and 2) How do black holes form, grow and shape the Universe?

The lessons and practical will present the whole breath of Athena’s scientific reach i) the dynamical assembly of clusters of galaxies, the chemical enrichment of the Universe; ii) the search for the most distant super-massive black holes, the physical mechanisms coupling black holes and their environment; iii) the life cycle of stars from the chemistry of the intergalactic medium, the physics of stellar winds and of supernova remnant, to the endpoints of stellar evolution on compact objects.

The aim of the school is to provide participants (staff, postdocs, PhD students, etc.) with knowledge of the scientific objectives of Athena, foster connexions in the early stage of their careers, stimulate inter- and multi-disciplinary collaborations, and develop their skills in high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy. No specific background in X-ray astronomy is required to attend the school.


Registration for the Athena School 2022 is now closed.

This school will be held in English. It is open to PhD students, post-doctoral researchers, and young researchers from the French research community. Registration for this event is free of charge but mandatory.

Each application will be reviewed for acceptance by the Scientific Organising Committee.

Scientific Organising Committee

  • Vincent Albouys (CNES)
  • Didier Barret (IRAP)
  • Anne Decourchelle (DAp/CEA)
  • Astrid Lamberts (PNPS)
  • Philippe Laudet (CNES)
  • Sophie Maurogordato (PNCG)
  • Pierre-Olivier Petrucci (PNHE)
  • Etienne Pointecouteau (IRAP, Chair)
  • Delphine Porquet (LAM)
  • Patrice Theulé (PCMI)
  • Natalie Webb (IRAP)


The programme will consist of lessons and practicals on:

  • ESA’s Athena mission and telescope, the X-IFU and WFI instruments, French programmatic, and Space project management
  • The Hot Universe
  • The Energetic Universe
  • Observatory Science
  • History of the Athena project, ESO programmes and synergies with Athena
  • Performance, calibration, and simulations tools

Download the agenda

Confirmed speakers

  • Vincent Albouys (CNES, Athena/X-IFU Project Manager)
  • Xavier Barcons (Director General of ESO)
  • Didier Barret (IRAP, Athena X-IFU Principal Investigator)
  • Nicolas Clerc (IRAP)
  • Edoardo Cucchetti (CNES)
  • Anne Decourchelle (CEA)
  • Matteo Guainazzi (ESA, Athena Project Scientist)
  • Christian Kirsch (FAU)
  • Philippe Laudet (CNES)
  • François Mernier (ESA)
  • Philippe Peille (CNES, Athena/X-IFU Performance Manager)
  • Pierre-Olivier Petrucci (IPAG)
  • Susanna Vergani (GEPI, PNHE Director)
  • Natalie Webb (IRAP, Athena/X-ISC Project Scientist)
  • Joern Wilms (FAU)

Local Organising Committee

  • Nicolas Clerc (IRAP)
  • Marjorie Cloup (IRAP)
  • Elias Kammoun (IRAP)
  • François Pajot (IRAP)
  • Etienne Pointecouteau (IRAP)
  • Maëva Voltz (IRAP)

Practical information


The Athena School 2022 will be held at the Mercure Centre Saint-Georges in Toulouse, France. The address is: 1 rue Paul Mériel, 31000 Toulouse.

Access by public transport: Metro station Jean Jaurès (Line B) or Capitole (Line A). More information about public transport in Toulouse are available at


Expenses and grants

The school will cover the costs of accommodation and meals of the participants (with arrival on Monday 20 June, four nights stay and departure on Friday 24 June) on the basis of the CNRS per diem. It will also support train travel fees up to 250€ per participant in order to minimise the school total carbon footprint. Air travel expenses for participants will not be covered.

Travel and accommodation arrangements will be dealt with directly by the school admin support on the basis of the participants’ registration. Please contact us for any special situation or questions.


Participants will be paired for the practical session. They will be encouraged to use their personal laptop during these sessions. The school organisers will provide the participants with a software package to install prior to the school, as well as the relevant assistance. Alternative solutions could also be accommodated.


The Athena School is supported by the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique and the CNRS/INSU national programmes: PNCG (Programme National Cosmologie et Galaxies), PNHE (Programme National Hautes Energies), PNPS (Programme National Physique Stellaire), PCMI (Programme National de Physique et Chimie du Milieu Interstellaire); Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales; and the X-IFU project.


For any questions regarding the school, please get in touch with us at

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