Research and Teaching


Since 1976, he has been a professor of astronomy at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and divides his time between the United States and France. As an invited professor at the University of Paris 7, at the observatory of Paris-Meudon, at the department of astrophysics of Saclay and at the IAP (Institute of astrophysics of Paris) of the CNRS, he collaborates regularly with French scientists.

Thuan is an astrophysicist internationally recognized for his research in extragalactic astronomy (i.e. that concerns with objects beyond the Milky Way) and cosmology. He is the author of more than 400 articles on the formation and evolution of galaxies, in particular blue compact dwarf galaxies, and on the synthesis of light elements in the Big-bang. His articles are widely cited in the world.

For his astronomical research, he makes use of the largest telescopes on the ground (Kitt Peak, Hawaii, Chile…) and in space (Hubble, Spitzer, Chandra…). At the end of 2004, thanks to observations made with Hubble, he discovered the youngest known galaxy in the universe (I Zwicky 18) – a discovery that was amply discussed in the international press.
In addition to his research, he teaches a course at the University of Virginia which he calls “Astronomy for Poets”. In this course, students with a non-scientitific background have the pleasure of discovering the wonders of the Universe in a non-technical language.