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Francesca Fornasini

Center for Astrophysics
SAO Postdoctoral Fellow


I am an SAO postdoctoral fellow investigating how supermassive black holes (SMBHs) and their host galaxies grow over cosmic time and how binary systems containing neutron stars (NSs) or black holes (BHs) evolve. In my research, I primarily use observations from X-ray satellites, including Chandra, NuSTAR, and XMM-Newton, to identify and study active SMBHs and X-ray binaries, which host accreting NSs or BHs. I received my PhD from UC Berkeley in 2016, where my research was focused on high-mass X-ray binaries (HMXBs), systems which are possible progenitors of the NS+NS, NS+BH, or BH+BH mergers whose gravitational waves are detectable by experiments such as LIGO. The goal of my thesis work was to improve our understanding of the evolution of HMXBs by identifying and studying the quiescent HMXB population, constraining the fraction of HMXBs that host a BH, and comparing HMXB populations in different galaxy environments.