About Me



Andrea Merloni. Scientific page 

About my work
I am currently staff member of the High Energy Group of the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching, Germany. My main scientific activities revolve around the preparation for scientific exploitation of eROSITA, an X-ray telescope that will survey the entire sky onboard the Russian-German mission SRG from 2017. I am also the co-PI of a SDSS-IV spectroscopic survey of X-ray selected AGN and clusters of galaxies called SPIDERS, aimed at following-up objects detected by ROSAT and eROSITA.

Before joining MPE I was Fellow of the Excellence Cluster "Origin and Structure of the Universe", a joint investigation by astrophysicists, particle physicists and nuclear physicists aimed at exploring fundamental questions in cosmology and astrophysics.
Before that, I was a postdoc in the neighbouring Max-Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA), as a member of the high-energy astrophysics group. I got my PhD in 2001, from the Institute of Astronomy, at the University of Cambridge, UK. There I worked in the X-ray group, under the supervision of Prof. Andy Fabian. My thesis was entitled "The spectra and variability of accreting black holes". You can read the summary here.
Even earlier, I used to do some astrophysics related work at the International Center for Relativistic Astrophysics (ICRA) at the University `La Sapienza' of Rome, where I got my undergraduate degree in physics in 1997.
My work focuses on the modeling of the accretion flows around compact objects, black holes in particular. I tend to work on the theoretical side of the issue, right where astrophysics meets general relativity.
The purpose of my work is ultimately to understand the physical properties of the black holes (we believe) we observe, either in our galaxy or in the extra galactic space.

Scientific Interests

Black holes are the most amazing and powerful of all astrophysical objects, and their properties, and those of the accretion flows around them, are thought to be of paramount importance in different fields of astronomy: galaxy formation and evolution; Quasars;Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) and Radio Galaxies; gamma-ray bursts; X-ray binaries and even our Galactic Center. My research activity focusses on the many aspects of black hole accretion, from the development of theories and interpretation of the high energy processes responsible for the observed emission to theoretical investigations of different modes of accretion. I am also interested in studying the global statistical properties of active black holes in the local universe and their cosmic evolution.
The image on the right, an artist's impression by Sebastian Heinz (Univ. of Wisconsin), shows the black hole - accretion disk - jet systems in galactic nuclei and X-ray binaries. The appearance of the inner regions around the black hole is very similar in both case, an idea that led us to the discovery of the so-called fundamental plane of black hole activity.
I am also a member of the COSMOS collaboration, one of the largest international multi-wavelength surveys ever done, where I study high redshift AGN, measuring fundamental properties of their black holes (masses, host galaxies properties, etc). Also, I am involved in the Surveys Key Science Programme of the LOFAR collaboration.

Research topics (old and new):
1) Spectral properties of accretion discs
2) Accretion disc coronae and magnetic flares
3) The accretion mode of low-luminosity black holes
4) The accretion mode of high-luminosity black holes
5) Time variability and QPOs in black hole candidates and neutron stars
6) Temporal properties of Gamma-ray bursts
7) Relativistic Iron line profiles and the inner boundary condition for accretion flows
8) Modes of disc accretion onto black holes (A recent review can be found here
9) The fundamental plane of Black Holes activity (MPA highlight, August 2003)
10) The anti-hierarchical growth of supermassive Black Holes
11) The parallel lives of supermassive Black Holes and their host galaxies (MPA highlight April 2005)
12) A grand unification: the fundamental plane of black hole activity and the cosmological growth of supermassive black holes (Invited talk at the Elba 2005 Workshop. gzipped pdf file)
13) The spectra and variability of luminous, inhomogenous accretion flows (.ppt) (.pdf)
14) The parallel lives of supermassive black holes and their host galaxies (.pdf) (International Astrophysics Conference: "Relativistic Astrophysics and Cosmology - The Einstein Legacy", Munich, November 2005)
15) Cosmological growth of Supermassive Black Holes: the Kinetic Luminosity Function of AGN (.pps) (IAU Symposium No. 238 "Black Holes - From Stars to Galaxies", Prague, August 2006)
16) Kinetic Luminosity, jet production efficiency and feedback properties of growing black holes (.pdf) ("Obscured AGN Across Cosmic Time", Kloster Seeon, Bavaria, June 2007)
17) Testing Black Hole astrophysics across the mass spectrum (various video formats) ("Putting Gravity to Work; from Black Holes to Galaxy Clusters", Cambridge, UK, July 2008)
18) A synthetic view of AGN evolution and SMBH growth ("Powerful Radio Galaxies: Triggering and Feedback", Leiden, The Netherlands, November 2009) new
19) AGN feedback in action: constraints on the scaling relations between BH and galaxy at high redshift ("Cosmic feedback; 38th COSPAR Assembly", Bremen, Germany, July 2010) new
20) A synthetic view of SMBH growth: comparing and contrasting the radiative and mechanical sectors ("What drives the growth of Black Holes", Durham, UK, July 2010) new

List of publications: 
ADS: ALL by date, by cit.cts, by norm.cit.cts; REFEREED - by date, by cit.cts, by norm.cit.cts

`Growing Black Holes: Accretion in a Cosmological context'.Here is a link to the webpage of a Conference I helped organizing last year in Garching. You can find the proceedings here.

You can also have a look at my PhD thesis, entitled:
"The spectra and variability of accreting black holes"

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Last modified: January 2014.