Astrophysicist Chiara Mingarelli Awarded the 2023 HEAD Early Career Prize

Portrait photo of Chiara Mingarelli

The American Astronomical Society’s High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) has named Chiara Mingarelli the winner of the 2023 HEAD Early Career Prize. The honor recognizes Mingarelli “for her leadership in the analysis of pulsar timing array data and her contributions to our understanding of the stochastic gravitational wave background.”

“I am deeply honored for this recognition of my research and contributions to the field of gravitational waves,” says Mingarelli, an associate research scientist at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics (CCA). “I would like to sincerely thank my mentors and colleagues for their support at this pivotal time in my career, as well as my group members for being my daily inspiration. I look forward to continuing my work on pulsar timing arrays, and to the overall advancement of our understanding of the universe.”

Mingarelli’s work focuses on the life cycles of the supermassive black holes that inhabit the hearts of massive galaxies. She is particularly curious whether pairs of supermassive black holes ever merge, creating powerful ripples in the fabric of space-time known as gravitational waves.

Mingarelli is a leader in using stars called pulsars to detect such waves. Pulsars act like celestial metronomes, sending blasts of light toward Earth at precisely timed intervals. By measuring slight variations in those pulsar timings, she and her colleagues aim to detect distortions in space-time between us and the pulsars caused by gravitational waves from supermassive black hole mergers.

The HEAD Early Career Prize recognizes significant advances or accomplishments (whether observational or theoretical) in high-energy astrophysics by individual astrophysicists within a decade of earning their Ph.D. For winning the award, Mingarelli receives $1,500 and is invited to present a talk at a meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division.

Before joining the CCA, Mingarelli was a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellow at the California Institute of Technology and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom with Alberto Vecchio.

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