I led or participated in research projects in Astrophysics from 2008 to 2014. I worked on gravitational-wave searches at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Hannover (Germany) and as a member of the LIGO and GEO Scientific Collaborations.
I actively contributed to the first detection of gravitational waves and the first direct observation of black holes and I am one of the co-authors of the related publication by the LIGO and Virgo Scientific Collaborations.
For my contribution to this revolutionary discovery, I was awarded the 2016 Physics Breakthrough Prize (shared with the LIGO and Virgo Scientific Collaborations).
Doctoral and post-doctoral research (2009 – 2014)
I carried out my research projects at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Hannover (Germany), the International Max Planck Research School on Gravitational Wave Astronomy and at the Leibniz University Hannover, and as a member of the LIGO and GEO Scientific Collaborations.
My main project was a search for gravitational waves from coalescing intermediate-mass black hole binaries. The analysis was carried out in LIGO-Virgo data collected between July 2009 and October 2010. My other main project was the assessment of the sensitivity to coalescing intermediate-mass black-hole binaries of the advanced LIGO and Virgo observatories (which came online a few years after the completion of this study).
This work is reported in greater detail in the following publications, of which I have been the main author:
- Search for gravitational radiation from intermediate mass black hole binaries in data from the second LIGO-Virgo joint science run (ArXiv pre-print here)
- Prospects for intermediate mass black hole binary searches with advanced gravitationalwave detectors (ArXiv pre-print here)
- Search for intermediate-mass black hole binaries with networks of ground-based gravitational-wave detectors (Ph.D. thesis)
A non-technical description of the above search in LIGO-Virgo data is available in this outreach article, which I wrote for the series of LIGO science summaries.
As part of my Ph.D. activity I also contributed to the following research projects:
- All-sky search for gravitational-wave bursts in the second joint LIGO Virgo run (ArXiv pre-print here)
- Localization of gravitational wave sources with networks of advanced detectors (ArXiv pre-print here)
- The NINJA2 project: Detecting and characterizing gravitational waveforms modelled using numerical binary black hole simulations (ArXiv pre-print here)
Master’s Thesis research (2008 – 2009)
I earned my Master’s Degree in Physics at the University of Padua (Italy) with the maximum mark (110/110 with honours).
I carried out the thesis project at the National Laboratories of the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) in Legnaro (Italy), in the facility hosting the AURIGA gravitational-wave antenna. I was awarded a grant by the INFN to support my work.
The thesis aimed at modelling the gravitational pull exerted by the interplanetary dust on the satellites of the ESA-NASA LISA space-based gravitational-wave observatory (based on the then-available LISA design) and how this would impact the detection of gravitational radiation. The approach followed in this study could be also used for dark-matter searches in the solar system.
The analysis is outlined in greater detail in the following publications, of which I have been the leading author:
- Effects of interplanetary dust on the LISA drag-free constellation (ArXiv pre-print here)
- Effect on interplanetary dust on the LISA drag-free constellation (Master’s Thesis)
I also contributed to the following publication:
- Modulation of LISA free-fall orbits due to the Earth–Moon system (ArXiv pre-print here)
Summer student programme (2007)
I completed the summer student programme at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia (close to Chicago, USA), back then the most powerful particle accelerator in the world. The programme is a joint collaboration of Fermilab and the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN). I worked with the local research team of the University of Padua (Italy) on data analysis for particle physics at the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) experiment.
I am a co-author of various papers on gravitational-wave astronomy published by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration. The full list is available here. However, the publications to which I have actively contributed are those reported in the previous sections of this page and collected here.