Bio-bibliography + Videoclip

Italy/USA and France

Alessandra Buonanno and Thibault Damour

2021 Balzan Prize for Gravitation: Physical and Astrophysical Aspects

For their leadership in the prediction of the gravitational-wave signals produced when compact objects like neutron stars and black holes spiral together and eventually merge. Their work was instrumental in the detection of gravitational waves, providing an extremely accurate confirmation of general relativity as the theory of gravitation, and allowing the LIGO and Virgo detectors to promote a type of astronomy which uses gravitational waves as new, powerful messengers of the universe.

ALESSANDRA BUONANNO, born in Cassino, Italy, in 1968, is an Italian and US citizen.
She is a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Potsdam, Germany, and Head of the Department “Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity”. She holds a research professorship at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA, and honorary professorships at the Humboldt University in Berlin, and the University of Potsdam.
She completed her Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of Pisa in 1996. After spending a brief period at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, as research associate, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in Bures-sur-Yvette, France from 1997 to 1999, and the Richard C. Tolman prize fellow at Caltech, Pasadena, USA from 1999 to 2002, where she was a visiting associate also from 2005 to 2014. From 2001 to 2005 she was a Chargée de Recherche of CNRS, first, at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, France and then at the Laboratoire Astroparticule et Cosmologie in Paris, France. In 2005 she became an associate professor in the department of physics at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA, where in 2010 she was promoted to full professor. Since 2014 she has been a director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam, Germany, where she leads the “Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity” department, which spans from theory to observation through the analysis of experimental data.
“Prizes/Honors”: For her contributions to the LIGO and Virgo discoveries, Buonanno was awarded several prizes, including the 2018 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz prize, the 2021 Galileo Galilei Medal and the 2021 Dirac Medal. She is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, of the US National Academy of Sciences, and of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Buonanno is a Fellow of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation, and of the American Physical Society. Buonanno also shared several prizes with the LIGO Scientific Collaboration for the discovery of the first binary black hole merger, and the observation of the first binary neutron-star coalescence.
“Research”: Buonanno’s research focuses on developing highly-accurate models of gravitational waves emitted by binary systems composed of black holes and/or neutron stars. These models are routinely employed by her group and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration to infer astrophysical, cosmological and fundamental physics information from the observed gravitational waves. Buonanno and her team are also doing research for future gravitational-wave experiments, which will open new frequency windows, in space (LISA) and on the ground (Einstein Telescope and Cosmic Explorer).

Among her most important publications

Buonanno, A., Chen, Y. (2001). Quantum noise in second generation, signal recycled laser interferometric gravitational wave detectors. Phys. Rev. D64, 042006. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.64.042006.

Buonanno, A., Chen, Y. (2002). Signal recycled laser interferometer gravitational wave detectors as optical springs. Phys. Rev. D65, 042001. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.65.042001.

Buonanno, A., Cook, G., Pretorius, F. (2007). Inspiral, merger and ring-down of equal-mass black-hole binary. Phys. Rev. D75, 124018. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.75.124018.

Barausse, E., Buonanno, A. (2010). An improved effective-one-body Hamiltonian for spinning black-hole binaries. Phys. Rev. D81, 084024. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.81.084024.

Taracchini, A., Buonanno, A. et al. (2014). Effective-one-body model for black-hole binaries with generic mass ratios and spins, Phys. Rev. D89 no.6, 061502 (R). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.89.061502.

Pan, Y., Buonanno, A. et al. (2014). Inspiral-merger-ringdown waveforms of spinning, precessing black-hole binaries in the effective-one-body formalism. Phys. Rev. D89 no. 8, 084006. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.89.084006.

Abbott, B.P. et al. (2016). Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger. Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, no.6, 061102. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.061102.

Abbott, B.P. et al. (2016). Tests of general relativity with GW150914. Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, no.22, 221101. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.221101.

Abbott, B.P. et al. (2016). GW151226: Observation of Gravitational Waves from a 22-Solar-Mass Binary Black-Hole Coalescence, Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 241103. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.241103.

THIBAULT DAMOUR born in Lyon on 7 February 1951, is a French citizen.
He has been a Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques, Bures-sur-Yvette, France since 1989.
After his studies at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de la rue d’Ulm, Paris, from 1970 to 1974, he earned his PhD (Thèse de Doctorat de 3ème cycle, spécialité Physique Théorique) from the Paris VI University in 1974. Then, from 1974 to 1989, he was, successively: a Jane Eliza Procter Fellow at Princeton University, USA; a European Space Agency International Fellow at the same University; a Research Attaché, then Research Chargé and then Research Director at the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS) at the Observatory of Paris-Meudon. He became a Permanent Professor at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in 1989.
A member of the Académie des Sciences, Institut de France, of the Academia Europaea and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is also a fellow of many European and US Learned Societies and was knighted Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur.

Among his most important publications

Damour, T. (1982). Problème des deux corps et freinage de rayonnement en relativité Générale. C.R. Acad. Sc. Paris, Série II, 294, pp. 1355-1357.

Damour, T. (1983). Gravitational Radiation Reaction in the Binary Pulsar and the Quadrupole Formula Controversy. Phys. Rev. Lett. 51, pp. 1019-1021.

Blanchet, L., and Damour, T. (1986). Radiative gravitational fields in general relativity I. general structure of the field outside the source. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. Lond. A 320, pp. 379-430.

Damour, T., and Deruelle, N. (1986). General relativistic celestial mechanics of binary systems II. The post-Newtonian timing formula. Ann. Inst. Henri Poincaré, 44 (n° 3), pp. 263-292.

Damour, T., and Taylor, J.H. (1992). Strong field tests of relativistic gravity and binary pulsars. Phys. Rev. D 45, 1840.

Taylor, J.N., Wolszczan, A., and Damour, T. (1993). Experimental Constraints on Strong Field Relativistic Gravity. Nature 355, 132.

Damour, T., Jaranowski, P., and Schäfer, G. (2001). Dimensional regularization of the gravitational interaction of point masses. Phys. Lett. B 513, 147 [gr-qc/0105038].

Blanchet, L., Damour, T., Esposito-Farese, G., and Iyer, B.R. (2004). Gravitational radiation from inspiralling compact binaries completed at the third post-Newtonian order. Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 091101. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.93.091101 [arXiv:gr-qc/0406012 [gr-qc]].

Damour, T., and Nagar, A. (2009). Relativistic tidal properties of neutron stars. Phys. Rev. D 80,084035. DOI:10.1103/Phys.RevD.80.084035 [arXiv:0906.0096 [gr-qc]].

Damour, T., Iyer, B.R., and Nagar, A. (2009). Improved resummation of post-Newtonian multipolar waveforms from circularized compact binaries. Phys. Rev. D 79, 064004.
DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.79.064004 [arXiv:0811.2069 [gr-qc]].

Damour, T., Jaranowski, P., and Schäfer G. (2014). Nonlocal-in-time action for the fourth post-Newtonian conservative dynamics of two-body systems. Phys. Rev. D 89, no. 6, 064058. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.89.064058 [arXiv:1401.4548 [gr-qc]].

Among their joint publications

Buonanno, A., Damour, T. (1999). Effective-one-body approach to general relativistic two-body dynamics. Phys. Rev. D59, 084006. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.59.084006 [arXiv:grqc/ 9811091 [gr-qc]].

Buonanno, A., Damour, T. (2000). Transition from inspiral to plunge in binary black hole coalescences. Phys. Rev. D62, 064015. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.62.064015 [arXiv:grqc/0001013 [gr-qc]].

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