Double honor: Elisa Maggio receives Giulio Rampa Prize and Fubini Prize for her excellent doctoral thesis

September 20, 2023

After being already awarded a prize from the Amaldi Research Center at La Sapienza University in Rome, Elisa Maggio, postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam receives two more awards for her outstanding thesis on tests of general relativity.

“I am very happy and greatly honored by this wonderful recognition of my work,” says Elisa Maggio. “It’s already an honor to win one award and I really thrilled to receive three awards for my doctoral thesis.”

In her PhD thesis which she did at La Sapienza University in Rome, Maggio investigated the presence of horizons in black holes as predicted by general relativity. Black holes are among the most compact objects in the universe and gravity is so strong in the vicinity of a black hole that not even light can escape this region. The outer boundary of this region – the “event horizon” – is predicted by general relativity. No information or even matter from inside the black hole can cross the horizon. On the other hand, some modified theories of gravity predict the existence of horizonless compact objects. Maggio derived the gravitational-wave signal that would be emitted if a horizonless compact object were formed during the coalescence of two black holes. Her research puts General Relativity to the test: If scientists were to measure a gravitational-wave signal corresponding to a horizonless compact object, they would have reached the limits of Einstein's theory.

Elisa Maggio studied physics at La Sapienza University in Rome, Italy, where she received her PhD with a thesis entitled “Probing new physics on the horizon of black holes with gravitational waves” in 2022. In April 2023, she was awarded a prize from the Amaldi Research Center at La Sapienza University in Rome endowed with EUR 3,000 for her outstanding thesis. Since November 2021, she has been a Leibniz Fellow in the Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity Department of Prof. Alessandra Buonanno at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Potsdam. Maggio’s position is supported by the funds of the 2018 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

The Giulio Rampa PhD Thesis Prize is sponsored by the University of Pavia and by the Italian Society for Relativity and Gravitational Physics (SIGRAV) to honor the memory of Giulio Rampa, a graduate of the University of Pavia who died at an early age during an accident. The prize is given to a graduate student every two years for outstanding research in general relativity. The prize carries a certificate and a net check for EUR 2,000.

The Fubini Prize, endowed with EUR 2,000, was established by the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) in honor of the Turinese theoretical physicist Sergio Fubini (1928 – 2005) who made significant contributions to field theory and string theory. The award ceremony will take place in Rome on 25 September 2023.

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