An asteroid is named in honor of astrophysicist Gilles Fontaine

Quebec astrophysicist Gilles Fontaine, Professor at the Department of Physics at the Université de Montréal and member of the Center for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec (CRAQ), has just received an unusual honor by having his name attributed to an asteroid.


Asteroid 2010 GF153, discovered in April 2010 as part of a deep survey of NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Explorer (WISE) telescope, is now known as (400811) Gillesfontaine. The notice, published in the Minor Planet Circulars reads as follows

“(400811) Gillesfontaine = 2010 GF153 Discovered 2010 Apr. 15 by WISE at WISE. Gilles Fontaine (b.1948) is a Canadian astrophysicist at the Universite de Montreal. He has made fundamental and lasting contributions to our knowledge of white dwarf interiors, evolution and pulsations. He is an inspiring teacher and mentor, who has trained a new generation of leaders in the field.”

The asteroid is a little over 2 km in diameter and revolves around the Sun, at a distance of about 360 million km, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Its orbital parameters can be found by consulting the following link: .

A remarkable career

Internationally renowned astrophysicist, Professor Gilles Fontaine has to his credit major achievements in the field of degenerate star physics – the ultimate products of stellar evolution for the vast majority of stars – a result of remarkably well-established leadership in both the creation of a team of experienced researchers at the Université de Montréal, as well as the ties it has with its international collaborators. Fontaine’s team has established itself as the undisputed leader in the study of this type of star and its work is recognized worldwide. They have earned him multiple awards and prizes.

Professor Gilles Fontaine has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of knowledge about the advanced phases of stellar evolution. Among other things, he has made seminal contributions to the theory describing the equation of state and transport properties in dense plasmas typical of the interior of white dwarfs. He laid the foundation for a true theory of the spectral evolution of white dwarf stars, a theory that continues to be refined to this day. He is also one of the pioneers of the use of white dwarfs as independent cosmochronometers of the different components of our galaxy. He highlighted the extraordinary potential of this method. Dr. Fontaine has also made outstanding contributions to the development of asteroseismology – this unique method of probing the internal structure of stars through the study of their vibrations – by actively participating in the discovery of new specimens and new categories of pulsating white dwarfs and characterizing them. He developed the first quantitative and objective method for the automatic search of optimal seismic models in the parameter space. Over the last twenty years, he and his team have also almost single-handedly developed the field of asteroseismology as applied to another category of stars, hot sub-dwarfs (precursors of a fraction white dwarfs), which proved to be the best-known seismic laboratories.

It is with great pride that the CRAQ warmly congratulates Professor Gilles Fontaine for this prestigious honor.

Robert Lamontagne
Public outreach and media relations
Center for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec
Phone: (438) 495-3482