Associate professor
Academic disciplines: 


I am a theoretical Astrophyiscist working on supermassive black hole formation and evolution, dynamics of binaries and detection of gravitational waves with space based interferometers like the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) and Pulsar Timing Arrays (PTAs).

I got my PhD from Universita` dell’Insubria in 2007 and worked as a researcher at University of Birmingham, UK (2007), PennState  University, PA USA (2008-2009) and the Albert Einstein Institute in Berlin, Germany (2009-2015).

In 2014 I was awarded a prestigious University Research Fellowship of the Royal Society, landing once again in Birmingham where I was appointed Senior Lecturer in 2017.

In 2018 I was awarded an ERC CoG grant, supporting the B Massive project (see link below)

Since 2019 I am associate professor at University of Milano Bicocca.


Scientific interests:

  • Supermassive black holes, formation and evolution
  • Supermassive black hole binaries: dynamics and interaction with gas and stars
  • Astrophysics of gravitational waves
  • Observation of low frequency gravitational waves with LISA and Pulsar Timing Arrays (PTAs)
  • Dynamics of dense systems
  • Galactic Center and Hypervelocity stars



My research work is focused on the modeling of astrophysical sources of gravitational waves, in particular binaries of supermassive black holes. The goal is to model these sources to predict their observability with present (PTAs) and future (LISA) techniques and to understand how to use the observations to advance our knowledge of these fascinating objects, that we think are formed at the dawn of 'Universe but about which we still know very little.

To reveal the mysteries of supermassive black holes, the European Research Council (ERC) funded my Project B Massive with 1.6M Euros, thanks to which I started my own research group in Milan-Bicocca

I play important roles in international scientific collaborations. In particular, I am a member of the LISA Consortium, in which I cover the role of coordinator of the 'science interpretation work package (SIWP)' with the aim of preparing the tools necessary for optimal exploitation of future LISA data. I am a member of the European PTA (EPTA), where I am part of the 'Steering Committee (SC)' which defines the scientific directions taken by the collaboration, and of the International PTA (IPTA), in which I also held the role of Chair in 2016. I am also a member of the Athena Mission collaboration and of the Athena-LISA joint task force.


  • Valiante, R., Colpi, M., Schneider, R., Mangiagli, A., Bonetti, M., Cerini, G., et al. (2021). Unveiling early black hole growth with multifrequency gravitational wave observations. MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY, 500(3), 4095-4109.
  • Franchini, A., Sesana, A., & Dotti, M. (2021). Circumbinary disc self-gravity governing supermassive black hole binary mergers. MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY, 507(1), 1458-1467 [10.1093/mnras/stab2234].
  • Bortolas, E., Franchini, A., Bonetti, M., & Sesana, A. (2021). The Competing Effect of Gas and Stars in the Evolution of Massive Black Hole Binaries. THE ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL LETTERS, 918(1) [10.3847/2041-8213/ac1c0c].
  • Sesana, A., Korsakova, N., Sedda, M., Baibhav, V., Barausse, E., Barke, S., et al. (2021). Unveiling the gravitational universe at μ-Hz frequencies. EXPERIMENTAL ASTRONOMY [10.1007/s10686-021-09709-9].
  • Nguyen, K., Bogdanovic, T., Runnoe, J., Taylor, S., Sesana, A., Eracleous, M., et al. (2020). Pulsar Timing Array Constraints on the Merger Timescale of Subparsec Supermassive Black Hole Binary Candidates. THE ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL LETTERS, 900(2).