People

Michela Mapelli

Team leader

Full Professor, University of Heidelberg

I am a black hole enthusiast, a cat-addicted person, and I am delighted to lead this wonderful research team. My current work focuses on the astrophysical formation channels of compact-object binaries.   

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWS

Carole Périgois

Postdoctoral fellow

UniPd

I am Carole, researcher in compact binaries observation with gravitational waves. Before joining the group, I made my PhD in Annecy on the impact of binary formation channels on the gravitational wave background under the supervision of Tania Regimbau. My research now extends to the extraction of astrophysical constrains from gravitational wave observations with compact binaries. My work is divided in 2 main topics: Performing Bayesian analysis with the detected events from LIGO-Virgo to compare astrophysical models and developing joint analysis between the astrophysical background and the compact binary coalescences detections for current detectors LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA and future ones Einstein Telescope, Cosmic Explorer and LISA.

Elena Lacchin

Postdoctoral fellow

UniPd & University of Heidelberg

I’m a computational astrophysicist mainly working on hydrodynamic simulations of stellar clusters. I joined the DEMOBLACK group in April 2023 as a Postdoctoral fellow. My goal in the group is to model the formation of stellar clusters through hydrodynamic simulations, whose evolution will be then followed by N-Body simulations to investigate the formation of binary compact objects. Previously, I got a PhD at the University of Bologna under the supervision of Dr. Francesco Calura. In my PhD, I focused on the modellization of a physical environment for the formation of multiple stellar populations in globular clusters by means of 3D hydrodynamic simulations, exploiting the RAMSES code. I also have experience with galactic chemical evolution, which I worked on during my master’s thesis at the University of Trieste, where I also obtained my bachelor’s degree.

Gastón Escobar

Postdoctoral fellow

UniPd

I am a postdoc in the DEMOBLACK group. I obtained my PhD in Astrophysics in Universidad Nacional de La Plata (Buenos Aires, Argentina). My main focus in research is in the branch of relativistic astrophysics. Before joining DEMOBLACK, I investigated the relativistic particle populations in microquasar jets with the aim of understanding the origin and properties of their non-thermal component. Particularly, for my PhD thesis I developed a model to propose microquasars as alternative Galactic and extragalactic cosmic-ray sources. For the DEMOBLACK project, my main focus is to develop an interface between the PeTar code, for cluster dynamics, and the group’s population-synthesis code SEVN. We will use this tool to investigate the formation channels of compact-object binaries in star clusters and produce simulated catalogues of gravitational-wave progenitors.

Giuliano Iorio

Fixed-term research staff

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 catalogue 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 (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.

Stefano Torniamenti

Postdoctoral fellow

University of Heidelberg

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. 

PHD STUDENTS

Maria Paola Vaccaro

PhD student

University of Heidelberg

I’m a computational astrophysicist, working in the field of gravitational-wave astronomy and black hole dynamics. I have studied Physics at the University of Pisa (bachelor degree) and Astrophysics and Cosmology at the University of Padua (master degree). With the DEMOBLACK group, I have developed a semi-analytical model of the active galactic nucleus disk scenario for hierarchical black hole mergers which is included in the code FASTCLUSTER. In my free time, I love practicing yoga, swimming, playing with my sewing machine and reading novels.

MASTER and BACHELOR STUDENTS

Alberto Brentegani

Bachelor student

UniPd

Alberto Magaraggia

Bachelor student

UniPd

Cecilia Sgalletta

Master student

UniPd

Daxal Mehta

Master student

UniPd

Enrico Montanari

Master student

UniPd

Erica Greco

Master student

UniPd

Francesco Spezzati

Bachelor student

UniPd

Irma Berviglieri

Bachelor student

UniPd

Juan Manuel Pacheco Arias

Master student

UniPd

Lorenzo Merli

Bachelor student

UniPd

Marianna Zerajic De Giorgio

Bachelor student

UniPd

Nicola Gaspari

Master student

UniPd

Riccardo Baldo

Master student

UniPd

Roberta Rufolo

Master student

UniPd

MAIN COLLABORATORS

Alessandro Trani

Senior Fellow

Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen

Alessandro Alberto Trani is an INTERACTION Senior Fellow at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. He received his PhD from SISSA in 2017, before moving to The University of Tokyo as a JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow. His Ph.D. focused on the dynamics of stars, gas, and planets close to SgrA*, the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy. With the advent of GW astronomy, he is now leveraging the gravitational few-body problem to unveil the astrophysical origin of GW events. His main research interest remains the study of collisional self-gravitating systems, which include star clusters, galactic nuclei, binary stars, and planetary systems. He collaborates with the DEMOBLACK group in the development of the population-synthesis code SEVN.

Benedetta Mestichelli

PhD student

Gran Sasso Science Institute

I’ve been working together with the Demoblack group since 2021, when I wrote my master’s degree thesis on formation channels of intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) in young globular clusters. I’m mainly interested in the study of compact object formation and evolution in star clusters, with a special focus on binary black holes. My PhD thesis, written in collaboration with this group, will expand the topic treated in my MS thesis, using N-body and semi-analytical codes to study the formation of IMBHs in clusters across a large redshift range.

Erika Korb

PhD student

UniPd

I’ve been collaborating with the DEMOBLACK group since 2020, conducting projects on stellar and binary evolution for my bachelor (Astronomy) and master (Astrophysics and Cosmology) – both achieved at the University of Padua. I love data analysis, coding, and stars, thus, I am working with this team also for my PhD project: I am using the stellar evolution software MESA and the population-synthesis code SEVN to study and characterize the physics of mass transfer processes. When I am not in front of a computer, I am likely biking somewhere and taking pictures of the wonders I bump into.

Filippo Santoliquido

Postdoctoral fellow

GSSI

Hi, I am Filippo Santoliquido and I am a postdoctoral researcher. I have been a member of the DEMOBLACK group since 2019, when I started working on my master thesis. At that time I developed cosmoRate, a code that estimates the merger rate density of compact objects across cosmic time. My PhD work in the DEMOBLACK team was dedicated to further exploring the properties of compact objects across cosmic time. Thus, I developed and tested galaxyRate, a code that can reconstruct the properties of host galaxies using observational scaling relations, such as the main sequence of galaxies and the fundamental metallicity relation. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and nature walks!

M. Celeste Artale

Associate Professor

Andrés Bello University, Santiago

I am currently an associate professor at the University Andrés Bello in Santiago (Chile). Before, I was 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.

Manuel Arca Sedda

Assistant Professor

GSSI

I’m Manuel Arca Sedda. Aside from chasing black holes in star cluster simulations, I love spending time with my family and learning more about martial arts, photography, winery, comics, books, movies, and music. It’s a pity that one day has just 24h. I earned my PhD in Astronomy at the University of Rome Sapienza in January 2014, where I also was a postdoc until the end of 2016. In 2017 I moved to Heidelberg, where I joined the Astronomisches Rechen Institut. In 2018 I was awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship to pursue my research project “Black Holes at all the scales”. Since March 2022 I am a Marie Curie fellow at the University of Padova where I conduct my research project “GRACE-BH”, which aims at tackling the challenge to answer the question “What are the best conditions under which an intermediate-mass black hole forms in a massive stellar system?”.

Marco Dall’Amico

PhD student

UniPd

I am a Ph.D. student at the Physics and Astronomy department of the University of Padova since October 2020, when I began my journey in this marvelous research field. In the DEMOBLACK group, I study the impact of dynamics on the formation of compact binaries and how the surrounding stellar environment affects this process. Currently, I am diving into three-body encounters among black holes. By means of N-body simulations, I investigate the role of dynamical interactions on the production of massive binary mergers. Here in Padova, I earned both my Bachelor’s degree in Astronomy and my Master’s degree in Physics, but I also spent one year of my Master’s at Stockholm University playing with big telescopes and learning weird Swedish words. When I am done working, I like getting lost somewhere in nature, fixing bikes, or just strumming my guitar.

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.

Sara Rastello

Postdoctoral fellow

ICCUB Barcelona

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

Fixed-term research staff

SISSA

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.

FORMER MEMBERS