Davide Gerosa

April 12, 2024



PhDs with us! 2024 admissions

The University of Milano-Bicocca welcomes applications for PhD scholarships. This year’s application deadline is May 14th, 2024 (noon CEST) for positions starting in the Fall of 2024:

https://en.unimib.it/education/postgraduates/doctoral-research-phd-programmes/applying-doctorate/calls-application

In particular, we are looking for highly motivated candidates to join our activities in black-hole binary dynamics and gravitational-wave data exploitation. Milano-Bicocca hosts a large group in gravitational-wave physics, covering activities ranging from astrophysical/numerical modeling to data analysis. The group counts 7 faculty members (Bortolas, Colpi, Dotti, Gerosa, Giacomazzo, Sesana, and an upcoming new hire) together with several postdocs (of which two prize fellows) and PhD students. Candidates will also have ample opportunities to work with and visit external collaborators.

Our PhD admission program includes several “open” scholarships, covering all research activities in the department (including ours!). All candidates are considered for those by default. In addition, we are advertising an additional “project” scholarship titled “Gravitational-wave source modeling” which will be supervised by Prof. Davide Gerosa. Candidates wishing to be considered for this opportunity should indicate it explicitly when applying (the number of this position FIS.8). For more information on Gerosa’s group see www.davidegerosa.com/group

We strive to build an inclusive group and welcome applications from all interested candidates. For informal inquiries, expressions of interest, and application tips please do not hesitate to contact [email protected]

March 23, 2024



Three more

Three more students graduated in March with research projects completed in our group!

  • Alessandro Pedrotti defended his MSc thesis working with Michele Mancarella on gravitational-wave cosmology going from crazy calculations to fun correlations and all the way to Einstein Telescope! Alessandro is now moving on with his career with a research placement at the University of Aix-Marseille. Congrats!
  • Annalisa Amigoni completed a BSc project with Ssohrab: more fun with 3g detectors…
  • Alice Palladino also completed a BSc project; she worked with Viola and me on a strange and mind-twisting “ordering” problem using the LIGO posterior (how many times did we get confused on this!)

March 6, 2024



Teaching for the new AI degree

On top of “astrostats” for the MSc degree in Astrophysics, this semester I’m excited to start teaching for the new BSc degree in Artificial Intelligence. This course is delivered jointly by the University of Milano-Bicocca (my place), the University of Milano-Statale (“the other” uni in town), and the University of Pavia (south of here…). My class is actually a lab, the full (too long) title is “Laboratory of Machine Learning Applied to Physical Systems.” The class material is available here:

github.com/dgerosa/machinelearning4physics_bicocca_2024

Can’t wait to see what these AI students can do! Hope to learn from you as much as you learn from me.

March 4, 2024



pAGN: the one-stop solution for AGN disc modeling

And the second paper on the arxiv today is Daria’s masterpiece! pAGN (which Daria says you should read “pagan”) is a brand new, super cool code that implements the hydrodynamics of AGN disks, at least in their most popular one-dimensional fashion. Those solutions have been around for a long time but their details were, well, let’s say unclear. Daria went through everything from beginning to end, coming up with the “one-stop solution for your AGN disc needs” (that was actually the working title of the paper…). So pip install pAGN and have fun.

Daria Gangardt, Alessandro Alberto Trani, Clément Bonnerot, Davide Gerosa.
arXiv:2403.00060 [astro-ph.HE].

March 4, 2024



Probing AGN jet precession with LISA.

This is the first of two papers on the arxiv today: it’s fun when two long, very different projects by different people just happen to be done on the same day! This paper is by my former colleague Nate Steinle (now a postdoc in Manitoba, Canada). Here we connect the dynamics of jets in AGN disks to the spin of black holes observable by LISA. And show the latter is a diagnostic of the former! And it’s nice to see my disk-binary code being used for something I didn’t think of when I wrote it.

Nathan Steinle, Davide Gerosa, Martin G. H. Krause
arXiv:2403.00066 [astro-ph.HE].

February 28, 2024



Primordial black holes by Lisa (not LISA…)

Our student Lisa Merlo defended her BSc 3rd year project today! Lisa worked with Pippa Cole and me on computing rates for mergers of primordial black holes, also considering a new detector prototype that the experimental group here is developing (nickname BAUSCIA, from the Milan dialect). Short answer: the rate is low but now is more accurately low. Lisa’s presentation was amazing and working with her has been a real pleasure. Stay tuned for her future astro career!

February 21, 2024



We got (another!) Marie Curie Fellowship!

Huge huge congrats to Zacharias Roupas who was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship with us! Zachos is currently based at the British University in Egypt and will be joining my group in Milan in the Fall of 2024. The Marie Curie Fellowship program is a prestigious postdoctoral scheme operating at the EU level and, together with Arianna, we’ll now have two Marie Curie grantees in the group. Zachos’ winning proposal is titled “Black hole spin and mass function in gaseous proto-clusters” (nickname: protoBH).

February 16, 2024



Astrophysical and relativistic modeling of the recoiling black-hole candidate in quasar 3C 186

Not sure what happened here, how the hell did I end up writing a paper with actual radio data that needed to be reduced… Call me an ambulance.

The guy here is 3C186 which is not a postcode but a quasar. A funny one because it’s not centered on the galaxy (it’s a bit off) and it’s also going at another velocity (ciao ciao). One of the leading explanations is that 3C186 is a recoiling black hole, the remnant of black-hole merger is being kicked away (yeah these things can happen). 3C186 also has a radio jet, and that should point in the direction of the black-hole spin. The funny thing is that spin and the kick appear perpendicular to each other, and this is fun because theory says they should actually be parallel. We looked into this a bit carefully and discovered it’s all a lie! The spin and the kick both point along the line of sight and appear perpendicular only because of a super strong projection effect. If this is true, the radio jet should also point straight to us! We then tried to test this with whatever ratio data we could grab (where is that ambulance) and found that… mmh, well, it’s a maybe.

Matteo Boschini, Davide Gerosa, Om Sharan Salafia, Massimo Dotti.
arXiv:2402.08740 [astro-ph.GA].

January 23, 2024



Tenured professorship in Astrophysics at the University of Milano-Bicocca (Italy)

The University of Milano-Bicocca (Milan, Italy) will be opening a tenured professorship in astrophysics, with a focus on gravitational-wave data analysis and exploitation. With this notice, we invite expressions of interest from potential candidates.

Milano-Bicocca hosts a large group in gravitational astronomy, with activities covering all bands of the gravitational-wave spectrum and the related experiments (LIGO/Virgo, LISA, ET, PTA). Faculty members with matching interests include Bortolas, Colpi, Dotti, Gerosa, Giacomazzo, and Sesana. The group hosts two large ERC grants and currently counts about 10 PhD students and 15 postdocs. We are part of a wider astrophysics unit at Milano-Bicocca (with activities in large-scale structures and experimental cosmology) as well as a large Physics department with ~70 faculty members.

We are targeting the opening of a faculty position on a timescale of a few months, with a prospective starting date in the early fall of 2024. Onboarding will be at the associate professor level (“professore associato” in the Italian system), which is a tenured appointment. Formal application requirements include holding either the Italian national habilitation (ASN) or a comparable position abroad for at least 3 years. We are happy to assist potential candidates with their ASN application.

Current strategic interests include the development of gravitational-wave data-analysis pipelines for the LISA space mission. At the same time, we are open to all strong candidates willing to bring their ambitious research programs in relativistic astrophysics and/or gravitational-wave astronomy to Milan.

Interested applicants are encouraged to send their CVs and a short cover letter to [email protected] by February 15th, 2024. The CV should include the names and email addresses of three referees who might be approached for references.

January 17, 2024



In memory of Chris Belczynski

Hey Chris, just wanted to say thanks because you wanted to understand what was going on, for that ski run down the Highland Bowl in Aspen, for sending me yet another version of those StarTrack files I had to postprocess, for those obscure code comments in Polish, for that last chat in Japan last month (I’ll finish that calculation about tides we sketched at the board!), and for the energy. I’m sure you’re on a beautiful mountain.

mykeeper.com/profile/KrzysztofBelczynski

December 31, 2023



2023 Wrapped!

Much like Spotify, here is our group “Wrapped”, 2023 edition!

Some of the group highlights include…  We welcomed Pippa, Nick, Arianna, Sshorab, and Matteo. We said bye to Matt who moved to MIT and Nate who moved to Canada, while Daria remains our UK stronghold. Michele got a faculty job, Viola got a postdoc, Davide got a PRIN grant, and Giulia got a SigmaXi grant. We graduated something like 12 BSc students and 4 MSc students (and all 4 of them now have PhD positions). A few long-term visitors (Francesco, Giulia, Harrison) made the group even better for a while. We wrote lots of papers, gave lots of talks, and ate lots of cakes. LIGO is taking data, LISA is being adopted, Virgo has seen better days, and GR is still true. Arianna was in the newspaper, Sshorab broke Davide’s ribs, Alice danced Greek dances, and Costantino got his first American coffee ever. Our gwpopnext conference was a blast and we discussed too much, thunderstorms included.

… now get ready for all the 2024 surprises!

November 22, 2023



Calibrating signal-to-noise ratio detection thresholds using gravitational-wave catalogs

In the gravitational-wave world, we usually say a binary merger is detected if it has a sufficiently large SNR (signal-to-noise ratio). But is that true? Detection pipelines are far more complicated than that. Here we try to figure out a section threshold from what’s detected. That is: (some) people agree that these guys are GWs, so what’s your SNR threshold for detectability? It’s like reading in the minds of a GW data analyst…

Matthew Mould, Christopher J. Moore, Davide Gerosa.
Physical Review D 109 (2023) 063013.
arXiv:2311.12117 [gr-qc].

November 21, 2023



Starting a new class! “Scientific computing” for PhD students

I’m teaching the first lecture of a new class today. This is “Scientific computing with Python,” a 16h module for PhD students. To the (many) PhD students who signed up: thanks for your interest, hope you’ll like this. BTW the title says Python but there will also be some Mathematica and some git, just for fun. My material is online at

github.com/dgerosa/scientificcomputing_bicocca_2023

Have a look if you want and please do give feedback if you do 🙂

November 20, 2023



November graduations: 4 Bsc projects with us

We had another graduation session in November, and a whopping 4 people graduated with research projects in our group. Here are the new BSc physicists who just defended:

  • Matteo Falcone worked with the other Matteo (Boschini) on a simulation design strategy for machine learning;
  • Serena Caslini worked with Nick on a new strategy to classify burst GW signals;
  • Marco “104” Bianchi worked with Giulia and put together a neural network for black-hole binary spin precession using his gaming GPU 🙂
  • Martin “Top” Gerini was supervised by Alice on supermassive black holes, LISA, and glitches.

Congrats all (and twice congrats to Marco and Serena, who graduated with full marks and honors). It was great working with you. Matteo and Martin are now enrolled in an MSc degree in Artificial Intelligence (good luck!), while Marco and Serena are starting our MSc degree in Astrophysics.

October 31, 2023



Spin-eccentricity interplay in merging binary black holes

I’m obsessed with spinning black-hole binaries but, guys, spinning and eccentric black holes are even better! This is the first first-author paper by Giulia, who is not only a rising GW astronomer but also a semi-professional baker… So take two spoons of black holes, one spoon of spin dynamics, some eccentricity (but less than 0.6 ounces), and a pinch of maths. Put this in a bowl, mix it thoroughly with numerical integrations …and the result is very tasty! Spins and eccentricity shape the dynamics of black-hole binaries together, which means one can hope to measure eccentricity indirectly from the spins, but also that if you forget about eccentricity then your spin inference will be crap. Buon appetito.

Giulia Fumagalli, Davide Gerosa.
Physical Review D 108 (2023) 124055.
arXiv:2310.16893 [gr-qc].

October 28, 2023



2 Masters + 2 Undegrads

We’ve had four amazing research students graduating with us in October!

  • Alessandro Santini defended his MSc project, which was actually completed in part at Johns Hopkins University (USA) with R. Cotesta and E. Berti. Alessandro worked our a possible astrophysical model to explain the mass-spin correlation observed by LIGO. We’ve published this already! Alessandro is moving on with a PhD at the AEI in Potsdam, Germany.
  • Francesco Nobili also got his MSc degree. His project was completed with S. Baghwat at the University of Birmingham as is about fitting ringdown amplitudes. I discovered other students call him “Brock” from the Pokemon character, so I started doing the same… Brock is starting a PhD in computational astrophysics at the University of Insubria in Como, Italy.
  • Federico Ravelli. Completed a shorter BSc project with Viola De Renzis on spin effects in LIGO/Virgo data…
  • … and Simone Sferlazzo also got his Physics BSc degree. Simone worked with Michele Mancarella on “the use and abuse” (cit.) of Fisher matrices in GWs.

After the Master’s defenses, students turned the graduation party into a football supporter thing, with chants and all the rest!

October 14, 2023



Arianna on a national newspaper

Arianna Renzini (Marie Curie Fellow in my group) is on the Italian national newspaper “Corriere della Sera” today!

Here is the online version: Arianna Renzini, la studiosa di Astrofisica corteggiata da tutto il mondo: «Basta cervelli in fuga, lavorerò a Milano»

But it was also on the printed thing distributed everywhere!

(That picture was taken in my office… So my office is also in the national newspaper today! Wooo!)

October 11, 2023



The cosmic variance of testing general relativity with gravitational-wave catalogs

…and we’re back to testing GR. We’ve got many gravitational-wave events and would like to use them all together to figure out if our equations for gravity are correct. And here is the issue: there’s only one set (aka catalog) of black holes that contains all the black holes we’ve observed. Now that’s obvious you’d say, and you would be right!, much like we have a single Universe to observe (I’m not a language guy but indeed “Universe” means like “the whole thing”). This effect is known in cosmology (think those low-order multiples in the usual CMB plot), so we called it “the cosmic variance of testing GR”. It’s bad, but the Baron Munchauseen tells us we can bootstrap.

Costantino Pacilio, Davide Gerosa, Swetha Bhagwat.
arXiv:2310.03811 [gr-qc].

October 6, 2023



More people, more topics, more fun

Our group is getting some tremendous additions, with 5 people joining in the fall of 2023! The scope of our research is getting broader and broader 🙂

  • Pippa Cole is joining us as a postdoc from Amsterdam and she’s going to teach us fun things about dark matter, environmental effects on GW measurements, primordial black-holes etc.
  • Ssohrab Borhanian is also coming in as a postdoc (from Jena, Germany and Penn State before that), with all you can ever hope to know about 3G detectors.
  • Nick Loutrel is a new postdoc from Rome (and Princeton before, and Montana before) which strengthens the analytical / modeling side of the group.
  • Arianna Renzini is coming as a postdoc from sunny Caltech with her own Marie Curie Fellowship, ready to make a splash with stochastic gravitational-wave backgrounds!
  • Matteo Boschini is a new PhD student, after a successful MSc degree with a cool project on numerical-relativity surrogate models.

We’re soon going to have Giulia Capurri who will be visiting us for a few months from Trieste. Welcome aboard all! There are like 13 people at group meetings now…

September 20, 2023



Students going for 3G, ringdowns, and selection effects

Three of our BSc students graduated today.

  • Ludovica Carbone worked with Michele Mancarella and Francesco Iacovellie and has some nice forecasts for 3G detectors.
  • Riccardo Bosoni de Martini was supervised by Costantino Pacilio and checked super carefully their Fisher code for ringdowns.
  • Malvina Bellotti (who, I’m very envious, is from Cortina in the mountains!) worked with me on selection effects for GW surveys.

And, last but not least, let me add Simone Piscitelli, who last week defended his MSc degree at Milano Statale (“the other” University of Milan) supervised by Costantino Pacilio and myself. Simone worked on a cool test of GR. Stay tuned…

Congrats all!

September 17, 2023



Postdoc positions in gravitational-wave astronomy at Milano-Bicocca (Italy)

The University of Milano-Bicocca (Italy) invites expressions of interest for postdoctoral positions in gravitational-wave astronomy.

Successful candidates will join the group of Prof. Davide Gerosa and will be part of the “GWmining” project funded by the European Research Council, with additional support from national grants. Targeted investigations focus on the astrophysical exploitation of gravitational-wave data. We are particularly interested in candidates with expertise in population-synthesis simulations of compact binaries, gravitational-wave parameter estimation and population studies, as well as applications of statistical and machine-learning tools to gravity (although we are open to all candidates with a strong gravitational-wave and/or high-energy astrophysics background!). Candidates will have ample opportunities to kickstart new projects with group members and will be strongly encouraged to develop their own independent research lines.

We anticipate awarding up to three positions. Appointments will be for 2+1 years and come with a generous research and travel budget. The starting date is negotiable.

The astrophysics unit at Milano-Bicocca provides a vibrant environment with expertise covering all aspects of gravitational-wave astronomy, relativistic astrophysics, and numerical relativity, as well as a wider astronomical context including observational and experimental activities. The group has tight connections with the LISA Consortium, the Virgo Collaboration, the Einstein Telescope Observational Science Board, the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), and the Italian Center for Supercomputing (ICSC). Faculty members with matching interests include Gerosa, Sesana, Colpi, Giacomazzo, and Dotti. For more information on Gerosa’s group see https://davidegerosa.com/group

Milan is a beautiful, international city in the north of Italy with history, art, and outstanding food. Mountains and lakes are just around the corner.

Successful candidates will have a PhD in Physics or related discipline, strong programming skills, and previous experience in gravitational (astro)physics. Applications should include a CV with a list of publications and a two-page statement covering research interests and plans. These should be sent by November 15th, 2023 using this web form:

https://forms.gle/hnQc3N1xh53YAziH9

Candidates should also arrange for at least two, but preferably three, reference letters to be sent using the same form by November 15th, 2023.

We strive to build a diverse and inclusive environment and welcome expressions of interest from traditionally underrepresented groups.

For inquiries please do not hesitate to contact Davide Gerosa at [email protected]

August 28, 2023



Black-hole mergers in disk-like environments could explain the observed 𝑞−𝜒eff correlation

Gravitational-wave data keep on giving us surprises. The most outstanding one IMO is an observed correlation between mass ratios and spins of the black holes, which was first found by Tom Callister and friends. That is so, so weird… to the point that virtually zero astrophysical models so far can explain it fully and consistently. Well, we can’t either (at least not fully and consistently) but we think this paper is a nice attempt. The secret seems to be the symmetry of the astrophysical environment one considers, and data tends to prefer black holes assembled in cylindrical symmetry. That’s also weird to be honest, but there’s a candidate for this setup, namely accretion disks and their migration traps. Who knows, more data will tell.

… and huge congrats to my MSc student Alessandro who managed to publish a paper even before graduating!

Alessandro Santini, Davide Gerosa, Roberto Cotesta, Emanuele Berti
arXiv:2308.12998 [astro-ph.HE].
Physical Review D 108 (2023) 083033.
Other press coverage: astrobites.

July 19, 2023



New July physicists

Two students just completed their Bachelor’s degree with research projects in our group.

  • Leonardo Toti worked with myself and Giulia Fumagalli on exploring black-hole merger trees in dense clusters.
  • Simone Restuccia worked with Costantino Pacilio on applying dimensionality-reduction techniques to black-hole ringdowns.

I had the honor of heading their graduation committee and could call them “physicists” for the very first time (and the Italian ceremonial sentence is quite imposing: “coi poteri conferitami…“). Congrats Simone and Leonardo!

July 17, 2023



gwpopnext was a blast!

Last week my group and I hosted the international workshop “Gravitational-wave populations: what’s next?.” It’s been a blast!

An unconventional conference, with almost zero talks and the vast majority of the time dedicated to discussions. I report the program here below, just to give you a feeling of what we discussed. The conference started with the question “How many of you entered the field after GW150914?” and virtually everyone raised their hand! It was so refreshing to see our field is alive.

We then went through population synthesis simulations, fancy statistical methods (I promise I’ll understand nonparametric methods one day!), intricacies of injections, catalogs, and overlap with our EM observer friends. We took a break on Wednesday for a social activity on Lake Como, with some folks diving into the lake and others hiking up to a small castle. All before dinner with a fascinating lake (and thunderstorm!) view.

Thanks all for joining and participating so actively. Huge thanks to Emanuele Berti and Salvo Vitale for co-organizing this with me, as well as the local GW group for assistance. Finally, congrats to Amanda Farah and Alex Criswell who won our SIGRAV early career prize.

And if you couldn’t make it for whatever reason no worries, we’ll do it again!


Conference program in a nutshell. These are our discussion sessions

  • Intro: the pieces of the population problem.
  • What can/should astrophysicists and pop-synthers predict?
  • What is the predictive power of pop-synth codes? Are we learning more than our assumptions?
  • Hierarchical Bayesian fits: can we keep on doing this? Technical difficulties, scaling with the number of events, selection effects.
  • Mind the outliers. Are they in or out of your fit? If you fit something well you also need to fit the rest.
  • What is a catalog? Is p_astro the way to go? (Ir)relevance of subthreshold events.
  • Mind the systematics. Are waveform/calibration impacting the population? And how about the assumed population?
  • Beyond functional forms: “non-parametric” methods. What are they and what does it even mean.
  • Beyond functional forms: “parametric but informed”. Machine learning emulators for pop-synth.
  • More populations. LISA, X-ray binaries, Gaia, you name it.
  • More than individual mergers. Stochastic backgrounds, foreground removal.
  • Adding the redshift dimension: toward 3g! Use the population to do cosmology.
  • What’s next? Summary and prospects.

July 10, 2023



Extending black-hole remnant surrogate models to extreme mass ratios

New paper from a new student! Here is Matteo Boschini’s first piece of work, where we look at predictions for the final mass and spins of black-hole remnants. That is, after two black hole merge, what’s the mass and spin of the guy they left behind? These predictions are typically done by fitting (in various ways) outputs from numerical-relativity simulations but those, unfortunately, can only handle black holes of similar masses. On the other hand, black holes with masses that are very different from each other can be handled analytically. Here we show how to put the two together with a single machine-learning fit.

Matteo Boschini, Davide Gerosa, Vijay Varma, Cristobal Armaza, Michael Boyle, Marceline S. Bonilla, Andrea Ceja, Yitian Chen, Nils Deppe, Matthew Giesler, Lawrence E. Kidder, Guillermo Lara, Oliver Long, Sizheng Ma, Keefe Mitman, Peter James Nee, Harald P. Pfeiffer, Antoni Ramos-Buades, Mark A. Scheel, Nils L. Vu, and Jooheon Yoo.
Physical Review D 108 (2023) 084015.
arXiv:2307.03435 [gr-qc].

June 21, 2023



Phd position at Milano-Bicocca under the Italian National PhD program in Space Science and Technology

The University of Milano-Bicocca (Milan, Italy) will be hiring a PhD student under the Italian National PhD program in Space Science and Technology. Candidates with interests in gravitational-wave astronomy, data analysis, and multi-messenger applications are encouraged to apply. For information please see:

The application deadline is July 6th, 2023 at 4pm CEST. For informal enquiries please contact Monica Colpi ([email protected]).

June 19, 2023



Masterclass in big data within science and industry

The advanced class “Big data within science and industry” will take place on September 22nd at the University of Milano-Bicocca (Milan, Italy).

https://sites.google.com/unimib.it/bigdatamasterclass

Data are everywhere. Exploring scientific data is now at the heart of both scientific advances as well as industrial applications. This one-day master class provides a “learn by example” introduction to the fascinating world of big data, namely pieces of information that are so rich and structured that require targeted analysis techniques loosely referred to as machine learning or artificial intelligence.


The class is suitable for advanced MSc students, PhD students, and postdocs who wish to expand their proficiency in handling scientific data. The program features the participation of three world-leading experts from both academia and the private sector, as well as a hands-on experience for all participants.

For students enrolled in the Physics and Astronomy PhD program here at Milano-Bicocca, this 8-hour program will be recognized with 1 CFU. In any case, we are happy to provide attendance certificates.

Interested students should register by September 8th, 2023. Participation is free of charge. We hope to accommodate everyone, but depending on the number of people registering, participants might need to be selected.

Davide Gerosa, Michele Fumagalli (Milano-Bicocca)

June 8, 2023



Dr. Matt!

Please let me introduce Dr Matthew Mould… After N papers (where N is a lot) and a 4h+15min viva discussion, Matt has completed his PhD in gravitational-wave astronomy at the University of Birmingham. WooooO! The examiners were Annelies Mortier from Birmingham and Uli Sperhake from Cambridge, who went through a thesis with more than 600 references…. Matt will be continuing his already successful career with a postdoc at MIT, LIGO lab. From my side, Matt is (actually, was!) my first PhD student and spending 3+ years working with him has been amazing. Thanks, Matt for teaching me Bayesian stats and never letting go when I was saying crap.

First thing you do after a 4h 15m viva? Eat a carefully baked cookie by Giulia!

June 7, 2023



Glitch systematics on the observation of massive black-hole binaries with LISA

All right, this is kind of far from my day-to-day topics but working on this paper with Alice and Riccardo was super fun. Think LISA and supermassive binary black holes. And… the detector does what it wants. That’s not true of course because the experimentalists are amazing, but there will be noise transients: unexpected blips when the gravitational-wave signal will be corrupted. Here we look at what would happen in a realistic setting when a LISA glitch happens on top of a gravitational wave from a supermassive black hole.

Alice Spadaro, Riccardo Buscicchio, Daniele Vetrugno, Antoine Klein, Davide Gerosa, Stefano Vitale, Rita Dolesi, William Joseph Weber, Monica Colpi.
Physical Review D 108 (2023) 123029.
arXiv:2306.03923 [gr-qc].

June 6, 2023



Let’s PRIN!

Happy to report we got a grant from the Italian PRIN program! This is in collaboration with Andrea Maselli from GSSI in L’Aquila. The title is “Gravitational-wave astronomy as a mature field: characterizing selection biases and environmental effects”. Stay tuned for more research (and more positions to join our group!).

June 3, 2023



IREU summer time

Welcome Harrison Blake! My group is hosting a student from the IREU program in Gravitational Physics, which is administered by the University of Florida. Harrison is visiting from Ohio State University and will be working with Michele Mancarella on forecasting the science with can do with gravitational waves from the Moon…

May 30, 2023



One to many: comparing single gravitational-wave events to astrophysical populations

We do population analysis in gravitational waves all the time now. That is: we compare many observations from GW experiments against many simulated datapoints from simulations. But what if you only have one observation? That could be a LIGO guy that is kind of an outlier (think GW190521) or maybe a datapoint from a future detector (think LISA) that feels lonely in his parameter space. Don’t look further, this is stats for you (and Matt’s last paper as a grad student…)

Matthew Mould, Davide Gerosa, Marco Dall’Amico, Michela Mapelli.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 525 (2023) 3986–3997
arXiv:2305.18539 [astro-ph.HE].

May 17, 2023



QLUSTER: quick clusters of merging binary black holes

We’ve got the best name ever for a numerical code! Let me introduce QLUSTER which, guess what, simulates clusters. We finally put out a piece of code that was originally developed in 2019 and later used in several papers. It’s a very very simple treatment of black-hole binary formation in dense stellar environments, with the goal of predicting gravitational waves from repeated mergers. The code is available at github.com/mdmould/qluster and a short description is provided in the proceedings of the 2023 edition of the amazing Moriond conference.

Davide Gerosa, Matthew Mould.
Proceedings of the 57th Rencontres de Moriond.
arXiv:2305.04987 [astro-ph.HE].

April 27, 2023



Parameter estimation of binary black holes in the endpoint of the up-down instability

This paper is episode four in the up-down instability series. We first figured out the instability exists (episode 1), then computed when binaries go after the instability (i.e. the endpoint, episode 2), and also checked binaries are really unstable in numerical relativity (episode 3). Now we look at the inference problem with LIGO/Virgo: if unstable up-down binaries enter the sensitivity window of the detector, will we be able to tell? We phrased the problem with some fancy stats using the so-called Savage Dickey density ratio, which is the right tool to answer this question. As is too often the case, current data are not informative enough but the future is bright and loud.

Viola De Renzis, Davide Gerosa, Matthew Mould, Riccardo Buscicchio, Lorenzo Zanga.
Physical Review D 108 (2023) 024024.
arXiv:2304.13063 [gr-qc].

April 12, 2023



Efficient multi-timescale dynamics of precessing black-hole binaries 

It’s out! The notorious (ask my students…) “precession v2” paper is finally out! This took a veeeery long time; we checked and the first commit for this paper is from May 2020 (!). But the result is an exhilarating tour of spin precession at 2PN with 27 pages and 183 (!!!) numbered equations. We rewrote the entire formalism, change how we parametrize things, compute all we could in closed forms, and speed up the computational implementation. It’s cool, now performing a precession-averaged evolution is a <0.1s operation. If you’re into BH binary spin precession, this is the paper for you. All of this is now part v2 of our PRECESSION python module. So long, and thanks for all the spin.

Davide Gerosa, Giulia Fumagalli, Matthew Mould, Giovanni Cavallotto, Diego Padilla Monroy, Daria Gangardt, Viola De Renzis.
Physical Review D 108 (2023) 024042.
arXiv:2304.04801 [gr-qc].
Open-source code: homepagerepositorydocumentation.

March 29, 2023



Inferring, not just detecting: metrics for high-redshift sources observed with third-generation gravitational-wave detectors

Third-generation gravitational wave detectors are going to see all stellar-mass black-hole mergers in the Universe. Wooooooooo. But hang on, is this enough? Observing the sources is great, but then we need to measure them. Here we try to focus on the latter and quantify how well we will be able to measure the distance of black holes. Read the paper now, but the short answer is that 3G detectors are going to be awesome but not that awesome…

Michele Mancarella, Francesco Iacovelli, Davide Gerosa.
Physical Review D Letters 107 (2023) L101302.
arXiv:2303.16323 [gr-qc].

March 23, 2023



PhD positions in gravitational-wave astronomy at Milano-Bicocca

The University of Milano-Bicocca welcomes applications for PhD scholarships. The application deadline is April 19th, 2023 for positions starting in the Fall of 2023:

https://en.unimib.it/education/postgraduates/doctoral-research-phd-programmes/applying-doctorate/calls-application

In particular, the theoretical astrophysics group is looking for highly motivated candidates to join our activities in black-hole binary dynamics, gravitational-wave data exploitation, and numerical relativity. Faculty members with matching interests include Gerosa, Sesana, Colpi, Dotti, and Giacomazzo. Candidates will have ample opportunities to work with and visit external collaborators as well.

Our PhD admission program includes a number of “open” scholarships, covering all research activities in the department (including ours!). All candidates are considered for those by default. In addition, our group this year is advertising an additional “project” scholarship titled “Gravitational-wave source modeling” and supervised by Gerosa. Candidates wishing to be considered for this additional opportunity should indicate it explicitly when applying (the number of this position FIS.3).

We strive to build an inclusive group and welcome applications from all interested candidates. More information on the astrophysics group at Bicocca can be found at astro.fisica.unimib.it. For informal inquiries and expressions of interest please do not hesitate to contact [email protected]

March 22, 2023



Spring graduations!

It’s student time! Massive congratulations to two of my students who just graduated.

The star of the day is Matteo Boschini, who completed his MSc project with me after a long visit at the AEI (Postdam, Germany) to collaborate with Vijay Varma. Matteo worked out an amazing extension of current numerical-relativity surrogate models… stay tuned for a paper because this is going to be cool!

Daniele Chirico completed his BSc studies with a sweet research project on supernova explosions, orbits, and kicks. He’s staying in Milan for his MSc degree now, so wait a bit for his successes!

That’s Matteo discussing black-hole remnants…

February 27, 2023



We should learn from our students: LISA and beyond

The student reps of our department (codename: redshift) have organized a stellar event today. Curiosity and interest in the LISA space mission brought them to design a full day of talks from leading experts in the field. They put Stefano Vitale, Alessandra Buonanno, and Bernard Schutz in the same room with the (astro)physics students and, well, a few of us who tagged along. The result was an amazing rollercoaster called “LISA and beyond” across the wonders of the experimental design by Stefano (is this truly going to work?!?), some amazing order-of-magnitude calculations that Bernard pulled off (wish I could do that!), and a broad vision by Alessandra across the discoveries we had and those we will soon be seeing (can’t wait, can’t wait!). Our students engaged with the speakers, asked questions, and organized a round table touching topics like the carbon footprint of space missions, gender equality, and how to manage a research group. Such ingenuity and enthusiasm are what keeps science alive! We should learn from our students and do science like that.

January 12, 2023



Gravitational-wave populations: what’s next?

It is a pleasure to announce the workshop “Gravitational-wave populations: what’s next?” which we are currently organizing for next summer:

https://sites.google.com/unimib.it/gwpopnext

As the catalog of detected gravitational-wave events grows from O(10) to O(100) sources (but think millions in a few decades!), such increasingly detailed information is allowing us to dig deeper into the (astro)physics of compact objects. At the same time, new and more data require appropriately powerful statistical tools to be fully exploited. This highly interactive workshop (fewer talks, more working together!) will be the opportunity to share recent progress, identify what new steps are now needed, and hopefully set the stage for substantial progress in the field.

The workshop will take place on July 10-14, 2023 at the University of Milano-Bicocca, which is located near the city center of Milan, Italy. Milan is a beautiful, international city in the north of Italy and is served by three major airports with worldwide connections. The city is home to art, history, and great food; nearby excursions will take you to the Italian lakes and the stunning Alps.

While we are unable to provide travel support, the workshop will have no registration fee. The workshop will be in person without remote options.

Interested participants should register on the conference website by March 1st, 2023. Depending on the number of people registering, participants might need to be selected. We will be in touch soon after the registration deadline, so please do not make travel plans until you hear back from us. When registering please indicate which of the discussion session(s) you would like to contribute to. Early career scientists will have the opportunity to give flash talks highlighting their science.

Davide Gerosa (Milano-Bicocca), Emanuele Berti (Johns Hopkins), Salvatore Vitale (MIT)

January 1, 2023



New year, new friend

Welcome to 2023… and what better way to start the new year than welcoming a new friend! Alice Spadaro (who has recently graduated with an MSc degree here in Milan) is now officially starting her PhD in my group. Alice always smiles, likes surfing, and of course is into gravitational waves 🙂 .

November 21, 2022



Two more graduations today!

Huge congrats to two of my students who graduated today! Matteo Muriano completed a funny BSc project on black-hole merger trees. And Giovanni Cavallotto went all in for his MSc research: he basically “fixed” black-hole binary spin precession at 2PN! (which is pretty cool, stay tuned for these results!). They both defended quite brilliantly, good luck with everything now!

November 15, 2022



Eccentricity or spin precession? Distinguishing subdominant effects in gravitational-wave data

We want more! With gravitational-wave data, some quantities like the masses of the black holes are much easier to see than others. But those others are very interesting, notably spins that process and orbits that are eccentric, because they would tell us how black hole binaries came to be in the first place. So while it would be great to see those, it’s also being very hard. Some tentative claims have been made with current data, but nothing unambiguous so far. In this paper led by Isobel from Cambridge, we show that (surprise surprise…) the signals needs to be long enough before one can tell eccentricity and spin precession apart.

Isobel Romero-Shaw, Davide Gerosa, Nicholas Loutrel.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 519 (2023) 5352–5357.
arXiv:2211.07528 [astro-ph.HE].

November 2, 2022



The Bardeen-Petterson effect, disk breaking, and the spin orientations of supermassive black-hole binaries

Together with my postdoc Nate, we’re proceeding our investigations on supermassive, spinning binary black holes surrounded by accretion disks (that is: a ton of gas around big monsters at the center of galaxies!). In today’s paper, we dig a bit deeper into what happens when the disk breaks. That presumably stops the interactions between the gas and the black-hole spins which could make all this funky astrophysics (spins that moves, disks that breaks, etc) actually observable with future gravitational-wave detectors. More needs to be done of course, but here we are.

Nathan Steinle, Davide Gerosa.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 519 (2023) 5031–5042.
arXiv:2211.00044 [astro-ph.HE].

October 25, 2022



Here are the new gravitational wave astronomers!

More graduations today! I had the pleasure to see three of my students defending their scientific work. Lorenzo Zanga completed his BSc project on unstable spinning black-hole binaries, Alessandro Carzaniga defended his MSc thesis on gaussianities in the LISA detector, and Alice Spadaro also presented her MSc-thesis work on the LISA mock data challenge. It’s so great to see students reaching the point of defending/arguing/explaining their science… I think it’s actually one of the best things about my job! Thank you all for sharing these months with me, I’ll see you around! (And thanks to Viola De Renzis and Riccardo Buscicchio who co-supervised Lorenzo, Alessandro, and Alice with me).

Here we are, from left to right: Alessandro (sorry I cut your face in half!), me trying to be funny, Riccardo, and smiling Alice! (Lorenzo and Viola had left the room earlier…)

October 13, 2022



Late 2022 visitors: we’re alive!

My group is hosting quite a few visitors this semester. We’re alive!

  • Francesco Iacovelli is visiting us for 7 (!) months from Geneva with a grant from the Istituto Svizzero. Francesco has done some amazing work on forecasting the capabilities of Einstein Telescope.
  • Chris Moore, a longstanding collaborator from the University of Birmingham will be here at the end of October
  • Clement Bonnerot (now in Copenhagen but about to move to the UK for a faculty job, congrats!) will join us in late November.
  • Swetha Baghwat will be visiting Milan from Birmingham in November as well.
  • And Lieke van Son, Phd student at Harvard and population-synthesis mastermind, will be here in early December.
Left to right: Giulia, Viola, Michele, Lieke, Costantino, Francesco, Alice, and me