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Best Early Career Researcher in Theoretical Astrophysics 2023

Dr Manuel Arca Sedda

Prof. Manuel Arca Sedda obtained his PhD in 2014at the University La Sapienza. He then became a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Tor Vergata and moved, two years later, to the University of Heidelberg, where he joined the Astronomisches Rechen Institut, where he started pursuing research on the formation and evolution of black holes of all sizes. He was awarded in 2018 an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship. He has recently obtained Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions grant to address the question "What are the best conditions under which an intermediate-mass black hole forms in a massiv stellar system?". In 2022, he became an assistant professor at the Gran Sasso Science Institute. He is a member of several international collaborations, like the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, the Einstein Telescope Consortium, and the Lunar Gravitational Wave Antenna. His main research focuses on the formation of stellar and intermediate-mass black holes in dense star clusters and close to supermassive black holes in galactic nuclei.

Since the first detection of gravitational waves emitted during the merger of two black holes, understanding the formation channels of such systems has become one of the most pressing questions in theoretical astrophysics. Prof. Arca Sedda has delivered key results to shed light on the formation of binary black holes. He demonstrated that the dynamical evolution of stellar-born black holes in dense star clusters and galactic nuclei can result in a great variety of black hole masses and spins. Studying the interactions that occur in star clusters with and without a central black hole sub-system, he developed one of the first systematic studies of black hole-neutron star mergers forming in young, globular, and nuclear clusters, and suggested that one of the mergers, GW190814, could have had originated in a massive star cluster. Moreover, Manuel Arca Sedda studied the possible seeding and growth of intermediate-mass black holes in massive star clusters, pinning down both the astrophysical properties of these objects and their possible observation as gravitational-wave sources. Using state-of-the-art numerical simulations at unprecedented resolution, he developed a systematic study of nuclear cluster formation via in-spiral and merger of star clusters formed close to the central regions of galaxies, leading a unique series of papers focused on the dynamics of stellar- and intermediate-mass black holes delivered close to a supermassive black hole by spiralling star clusters.

The work of Prof. Manuel Arca Sedda was conducted at the University La Sapienza, Heidelberg University, and the University of Padova.