The Vatican Astronomical Observatory is hosting an international conference on the formation and evolution of the galaxies, with more than 210 scientists participating from 26 countries, including Germany, France, Italy, the United States, Australia, Canada, Holland and Japan.
The conference, which began October 1 and ends October 5, will center on those galaxies in which the part that is in the form of a disc predominates. In addition there will be discussions about large conglomerates made up of stars, interstellar dust and gases.
The discussion on October 1 focused on the Milky Way. The next day participants discussed the properties of the discs of nearby galaxies and the laws of formation of stars and their chemical evolution. The rest of the days will center on the periphery of galaxies, the evolution of their structural properties and their formation in a hierarchical universe.
“The astronomers gathered at this conference have studied galactic discs,” said Father Guy Consolmagno, a member of the Vatican Observatory.
This conference is to show the world that “the Church does not fear science,” he noted, adding that in reality, “there is not reason to think there is a conflict between the Church and astronomy because faith that is fearful of the truth is not faith.”
The Vatican Observatory was founded in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII to show that “the Church and her pastors are not opposed to solid and authentic science, both human and divine, but rather they embrace it, drive it and promote it with the utmost dedication,” said Father Jose Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory. The Observatory “is a great visible sign of the commitment of the Church to the contemporary world,” he said.