PEOPLE

The research team and our collaborators

Michela Mapelli

Team leader

prof. at UniPd

I am a black hole enthusiast, a cat-addicted person and I am delighted to lead this wonderful research team. I obtained my PhD in Astrophysics from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste (2006). My PhD Thesis on the “Relic signatures of reionization sources” was awarded both the Gratton and the Tacchini Prizes. In 2011, after a Forschungskredit postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Zurich and a senior postdoctoral fellowship in Milano, I moved to a permanent position at INAF Padova, where I obtained a “Future in Research” Italian grant (2013) and  I started building an independent research group. In 2015, I was awarded the MERAC PRIZE for the Best Early Career Researcher in Theoretical Astrophysics by the European Astronomical Society, “for my theoretical and computational contributions to the dynamics of star clusters and galaxies, the reionization epoch, the Galactic centre, and the formation of massive stellar black holes”. In 2017, I became fixed-term professor at the University of Innsbruck and one year later I moved to the University of Padova as an associate professor. In 2017, I have been awarded an ERC consolidator grant about “The demography of black hole binaries in the era of gravitational wave astronomy”. My current work focuses on the astrophysical formation channels of compact-object binaries. 

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWS

Alessandro Ballone

postdoc

UniPd

I am a postdoc in the DEMOBLACK group since November 2019. For my Master’s thesis at University of Bologna (supervisor Fabrizio Brighenti), I studied the impact of jets from supermassive black holes (SMBHs) on the hot-gas of elliptical galaxies. For my PhD, I moved to Munich at MPE and USM. With my supervisors, Andreas Burkert and Marc Schartmann, I studied the little gas cloud G2 orbiting SgrA*, the SMBH in the center of our Galaxy. In November 2016, I joined a MERAC foundation project (led by Michela Mapelli), to investigate the dynamics of molecular clouds and intermediate-mass black holes in the vicinity of SgrA*. For the DEMOBLACK project, I work on hydrodynamical simulations of star cluster formation, to generate “realistic” initial conditions for direct N-body simulations of star clusters. My final goal is to understand the impact of realistic star cluster models on the dynamical evolution of stellar binary black holes. This task combines my expertise in hydrodynamics and my long-term interest in black holes.

Giuliano Iorio

postdoc

UniPd

  Before joining the DEMOBLACK team as a postdoctoral researcher, I was a Newton International Fellow at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, UK (2018 – 2019). I got my PhD at the University of Bologna under the supervision of Prof. Carlo Nipoti and Prof. Filippo Fraternali. My scientific interests are quite broad: during my PhD, I focused on the kinematics and dynamics of dwarf galaxies. During my fellowship in Cambridge, I exploited the first releases of the Gaia catalog to study the stellar halo of our Galaxy. In particular,  I was involved in the discovery of the last major merger experienced by our Galaxy (aggiungere link a questo articolo su physics today https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/PT.3.4107 ).   I am a “data lover” and coding enthusiast. I love to stay updated on machine learning and coding developments trying to find a way to apply them to my astrophysical researches.  For the DEMOBLACK project, I will mainly focus on the development of the population-synthesis code SEVN and its integration in the AMUSE framework. Meanwhile, I will use the code to explore the physical processes driving the formation and evolution of black hole binaries.

Guglielmo Costa

postdoc

UniPd

Hi, my name is Guglielmo and I am a postdoc in the DEMOBLACK group. I obtained my PhD in SISSA (Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, Trieste) in 2019. I study stars and how they evolve. In my work, I focused my attention on stellar rotation since it may strongly change the evolution and the main properties of the stars. To study such a topic, I used PARSEC (Padova tRieste Stellar Evolutionary Code) models in which I included the main effects of rotation. In my studies, I confirmed that rotation is not a negligible ingredient, and it should be taken into account to properly model stars. Moreover, my work on NGC1866 stellar cluster gives interesting clues on its formation process (take a look at https://www.aanda.org/2019).

Nicola Giacobbo

postdoc

UniPd

My research focuses on the demography of compact-object binaries since my Master thesis (2016). During my PhD studies at the University of Padova (2016 – 2019), I have developed the MOBSE population-synthesis code (Giacobbo et al. 2018; Giacobbo & Mapelli 2018), which I have used to investigate the evolutionary pathways of compact binaries and their dependence on stellar metallicity, common envelope, supernova kicks, and many other physical processes. In general, my interests span from the evolution of single and binary stars to compact-object dynamics and computational astrophysics. I have just started my first postdoctoral fellowship in the DEMOBLACK team.

Sara Rastello

postdoc

UniPd

I am a Post-Doc in the DEMOBLACK research group since February 2019. I studied in Bologna, where I got my bachelor (Astronomy) and master degree (Astrophysics and Cosmology). In 2015, I obtained a joint PhD fellowship from University of Rome “La Sapienza”, University of Rome “Tor Vergata” and INAF. During my PhD, under the supervisions of Roberto Capuzzo – Dolcetta, I studied the dynamics of star clusters over a broad range of mass and spatial scales and I became a skilled user of numerical codes such as NBODY6, NBODY7 and NBODY6++GPU. In 2017, I was awarded a PhD grant from “La Sapienza” University of Rome for my proposal entitled “Black Holes and Star Clusters over mass and Spatial Scales”. My main research field is galactic dynamics, with a focus on the dynamics of binary stars, black hole binaries, and other compact object binaries in star clusters.

Ugo N. Di Carlo

Postdoctoral fellow

Padova University

My name is Ugo Niccolò Di Carlo and I’m a PhD student at University of Insubria and INFN Padova. I got both my bachelor and master degrees at University of Padova, with a thesis on the tidal disruption of young star clusters near the galactic center, and on the rotation of young star clusters, respectively. Currently, I work on the formation of gravitational wave sources in young star clusters. I investigate how dynamics may lead to the formation of binary compact objects with different properties. To do so, I mainly use direct summation N-body simulations, but I also have some experience with hydrodynamical  codes. Besides science, I love cooking, music, photography and videogames.

Yann Bouffanais

postdoc

UniPd

I am a postdoctoral fellow member of the ERC project DEMOBLACK. Before joining DEMOBLACK, I was a PhD student at the APC laboratory in Paris under the supervision of Edward Porter. My research interests are focused on the use of Bayesian analysis techniques applied in the field of gravitational wave (GW) and astrophysics. In particular, I have developed an efficient search algorithm based on particle swarm optimisation tailored to find galactic compact binaries as seen by the future GW interferometer LISA. I have also contributed to the development of parameter estimation techniques for compact binary coalesces observed by LIGO/Virgo. Nowadays, my research work focuses on applying Bayesian hierarchical approach to state-of-the art models of binary black holes, in order to differentiate the formation channels of binary black holes.

PHD STUDENTS

Filippo Santoliquido

PhD student

UniPd

Hi! My name is Filippo Santoliquido and I am a PhD student. I am proudly a member of the DEMOBLACK team since 2019. I graduated in Physics in 2017 at the University of Trento. I spent the last semester of this bachelor program in Portugal at the University of Coimbra as an Erasmus student. When I came back, I decided to enroll in the Astronomy Master degree course at the University of Padova. During my Master thesis, under the supervision of Michela Mapelli and Nicola Giacobbo, I developed a data-driven model to estimate the merger rate density of compact binaries across cosmic time. I recently started my PhD in the DEMOBLACK team: my goal is to put merging compact objects into a well-thought cosmological framework.

MASTER and BACHELOR STUDENTS

Alberto Brentegani

Bachelor student

UniPd

Alberto Magaraggia

Bachelor student

UniPd

Enrico Montanari

Master student

UniPd

Erica Greco

Master student

UniPd

Erika Korb

Bachelor student

UniPd

Francesco Spezzati

Bachelor student

UniPd

Lorenzo Merli

Bachelor student

UniPd

Marianna Zerajic De Giorgio

Bachelor student

UniPd

Nicola Gaspari

Master student

UniPd

Riccardo Baldo

Master student

UniPd

MAIN COLLABORATORS

M. Celeste Artale

FWF stand-alone postdoctoral fellow

Innsbruck University

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Astro- and Particle Physics, University of Innsbruck, Austria, and I am the principal investigator of a Stand-Alone Project from FWF in Austria. I did my Master and Ph.D. studies in Physics at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. My research field is varied. In particular, I am very interested in the properties of the host galaxies of merging compact objects. Understanding which are the most likely host galaxies of merging compact objects can help to identify the electromagnetic counterpart of gravitational wave detections. It is also relevant to discuss different open questions in binary stellar evolution and cosmology.

Mario Pasquato

Astrofit2 Marie Curie fellow

INAF Padova

After earning my master’s from Scuola Normale Superiore, I was a Ph.D. student at Pisa University. I worked on catching intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) as a summer intern at Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) with Prof. Stiavelli and Prof. van der Marel, and obtained my Ph.D. in 2010. Later I was a postdoc at the COSMIC-LAB group led by Prof. Ferraro, where I co-authored a Nature paper on blue-straggler stars. Fascinated by Asia, I moved to Seoul to work at Yonsei University. I spent five years there developing my own research project in computational astronomy, teaching, mentoring students and collaborating with the Italian embassy’s technical-scientific committee before moving back to Padua in 2017, where I became a Marie Curie Fellow hosted by Prof. Mapelli with a project focused on applying machine learning to astronomy.

Nadeen Sabha

postdoctoral fellow

Innsbruck University

I am currently a postdoc at the Institute for Astro- and Particle Physics at the University of Innsbruck. I obtained my B.Sc. in applied physics in 2003 from the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Irbid, Jordan.  As a member of Bonn Cologne Graduate School of Physics and Astronomy (BCGS), I obtained my M.Sc. in experimental physics in September 2010 from the University of Cologne, for which I was awarded the DAAD prize 2011 for excellent international students at German universities. By extending on my master thesis work on high resolution infrared studies of the central parsec of our galaxy, I continued toward my PhD degree which I finished at the end of 2014. My research is focused on investigating the Galactic Centre using infrared observations to study the stellar population and the diffuse emission associated with the Centre’s massive clusters. I am also part of ENGRAVE, an international collaboration dedicated to follow-up studies of electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave sources.

Stefano Torniamenti

PhD student

UniPd

I am a PhD student in Astronomy at the Università degli Studi di Padova. My research focuses on the study of young star clusters, with particular attention to the formation and evolution of their binary black hole population. The main goal of my project is to build a new approach to investigate the interplay among dynamics, stellar and binary evolution, and hydrodynamics in these still poorly understood stellar systems. Before starting my PhD in Padova, I graduated in Physics at Milano University, where I completed my Bachelor and Master Thesis under the supervision of Giuseppe Bertin. In my master thesis, I studied the processes of energy equipartition and mass segregation in globular clusters by means of self-consistent models.