Publication date: 12/12/2016

Fuente: El Pais 24/12/2013

The ESO Council has appointed Xavier Barcons, 57, as the next Director General of ESO. He will take up his position on 1 September 2017, when Tim de Zeeuw, the current Director General, completes his mandate.

Professor Xavier Barcons is Spanish and has had a distinguished career both in the academic world and also as an expert in science policy. He is also well known at ESO after his active and successful term as Council President between 2012 and 2014, a period that included the approval of the E-ELT Programme and the start of Phase 1 of the telescope’s construction. He has also served as an active member and chair of many other ESO committees, most recently being chair of the Observing Programmes Committee.

Xavier Barcons began his career as a physicist and completed his PhD at the University of Cantabria in 1985 on the subject of hot plasmas and the intergalactic medium. This led to an interest in X-ray astronomy and the study of the spectra of distant quasars. After a period working in Cambridge, UK, he returned to Spain and was instrumental in establishing the first X-ray astronomy group in his country. Since 2002 he has been Research Professor at the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).

Xavier’s subsequent research has focussed on X-ray astronomy and he has used data from many space observatories, including Einstein, ROSAT and XMM-Newton, as well as arranging many coordinated ground-based observing campaigns at ESO and elsewhere. During the last 15 years he has been promoting a next generation European X-ray observatory, now selected by ESA as the Athena mission. A particular area of scientific interest is the nature of active galactic nuclei in the distant Universe and how observing both from space and the ground can lead to a better understanding of their properties and evolution.