Ricercatore universitario

telefono: +39 06 7259 4524

I am a research staff scientist and I work at the Department of Physics of the University of Rome Tor Vergata. I am also affiliated at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg and at the INAF Astrophysical Observatory of Turin. My current research is mostly focused on the search for new Extrasolar Planets and their characterisation.

I am involved in several collaborations, including HATSouth, which uses a network of identical, fully automated wide field telescopes, for detecting new transiting exoplanets; GAPS, which is undertaking a challenging observational program to characterize the global architectural properties of exoplanetary systems, by using the high-resolution spectrograph HARPS-N; CARMENES, which is carrying out a survey of 300 late-type main-sequence stars with the goal of detecting low-mass planets in their habitable zones; and MiNDSTEp, which exploits the technique of gravitational microlensing to study the population of planets in the Galaxy. I have also participated to several programs aimed to confirm the planetary nature of a subset of Kepler and K2 candidates via radial-velocity follow-up observations, and I am now working on TESS data. I am recently become member of the The Exo-Earth Discovery and Exploration Network (EDEN), which aims to find habitable planets within 50 light years. Actually, a large part of exoplanet community is focussing on the neighbors of the Solar system, not only for the obvious observational reasons, but also in the spirit of future exploration, because the closest planets will be the only ones that can be reached by the human being on a historical scale.

I am leading an observational program to accurately measure the characteristics of known exoplanet systems hosting close-in transiting giant planets. Our study is based on high-quality photometric follow-up observations of transit events with an array of medium-class telescopes, which are located in both the northern and the southern hemispheres. A high photometric precision is achieved through the telescope-defocussing technique. The data are then reduced and analysed in a homogeneous way for estimating the orbital and physical parameters of both the planets and their parent stars. We also make use of multi-band imaging cameras for probing planetary atmospheres via the transmission-photometry technique. In some cases we adopt a two-site observational strategy for collecting simultaneous light curves of individual transits, which is the only reliable method for truly distinguishing a real astrophysical signal from systematic noise.

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