Mark Gieles

Mark Gieles

Universitat de Barcelona

Experimental Sciences & Mathematics

Mark Gieles obtained his PhD in 2006 from Utrecht University in the Netherlands under the supervision of Prof Henny Lamers and Prof Simon Portegies Zwart. He then moved to the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile as a research fellow and support astronomer on the Very Large Telescope (VLT). In 2009, he won a Royal Society University Research Fellowship (URF) which he took up at the Institute of Astronomy of the University of Cambridge and in 2013 he moved it to the University of Surrey, where he started a new astrophysics research group. From 2013 to 2019 he was PI of a Starting Grant of the European Research Council (ERC) and since 2017 he is a member of the editorial board of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), one of the leading peer-review journals in astronomy and astrophysics. In 2018 he started as ICREA Professor at ICCUB where he now leads the Virgo gravitational wave group.

Research interests

Most of my research focusses on trying to understand the formation and dynamical evolution of star clusters to shed light on the stellar initial mass function, black holes, gravitational waves, the globular cluster multiple population problem and the dark matter distribution in galaxies. The Milky Way contains approximately 150 globular clusters, for which we have exquisite observations. To interpret these, I use both star-by-star N-body simulations, fast approximate models for cluster evolution and dynamical mass models. I developed a new family of mass models for star clusters (LIMEPY) to search for stellar-mass black holes in star clusters and to probe dark matter in the Milky Way using data from the ESA-Gaia satellite and related surveys. In 2019, I joined the Virgo Collaboration and I make predictions for binary black hole mergers that formed dynamically in star clusters. 

Selected publications

- Shenar T et al. 2022, 'An X-ray-quiet black hole born with a negligible kick in a massive binary within the Large Magellanic Cloud', Nature Astronomy, 6, 1085-1092

- Saracino S, Kamann S, Guarcello MG, Usher C, Bastian N, Cabrera-Ziri I, Gieles M, Dreizler S, Da Costa GS, Husser TO & Hénault-Brunet  V 2022, 'A black hole detected in the young massive LMC cluster NGC 1850', Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 511, 2, 2914–2924.