Eleonora Troja

Eleonora Troja is an Italian astrophysicist. In 2017 she led the discovery of X-ray emission from the gravitational wave source GW170817.[1][2][3][4] She is an associate research scientist at University of Maryland, College Park and Goddard Space Flight Center.

Eleonora Troja
Alma materUniversity of Palermo (BA, MPhil, PhD)
Scientific career
InstitutionsGoddard Space Flight Center
University of Maryland, College Park
ThesisGamma-ray bursts in the Swift era: evidence of long lived central engines and implications for progenitor models (2009)
Doctoral advisorGiancarlo Cusumano
Other academic advisorsGiovanni Peres
Fabio Reale
Neil Gehrels


Troja completed a B.A. in physics and astronomy at University of Palermo in 2002. She completed a thesis, X-ray spectroscopy of He-like ions in optically thin astrophysical plasmas, under supervisor Giovanni Peres. Troja earned a M.Phil. in physics and astronomy at Palermo in 2005 under Fabio Reale. Her graduate thesis was titled XMM-Newton observations of the supernova remnant IC 443: analysis of the thermal X-ray emission. She completed a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy in 2009 under advisor Giancarlo Cusumano. Her dissertation was titled Gamma-ray bursts in the Swift era: evidence of long lived central engines and implications for progenitor models. From July 2009 to July 2012, Troja was a postdoctoral fellow at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) under advisor Neil Gehrels.[5]


Troja was a research associate at University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) and GSCF from July 2012 to July 2013. In July 2013, she became the Swift Guest Investigator Program Lead at GSCF. She became an assistant research scientist at UMD and GSCF in July 2015.[5]


Troja researches high energy astrophysics, gamma-ray bursts, and electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational waves. In her career Troja worked on a variety of different aspects of the GRB phenomenon, although her focus is the connection between short duration GRBs, neutron star mergers, and gravitational wave sources.[5] In 2017 she led the discovery of X-ray emission from the gravitational wave source GW170817.[1][2][3][4]

Troja's main interest is to investigate the observational signatures of compact binary mergers, that is, binary systems composed by either two neutron stars (NS-NS) or a neutron star and a black hole (NS-BH) which slowly spiral into each other and eventually collide due to energy losses to gravitational radiation. Compact binary mergers lie at the intersection of several key aspects of modern astrophysics:

  • they are the most likely cause of short duration gamma-ray bursts;
  • they are strong sources of gravitational wave radiation, and prime candidates for direct detection with advanced LIGO and Virgo;
  • they are the most promising r-process sites for the formation of all the heavy elements (i.e. gold, platinum, uranium, …) found on Earth.

These three fundamental areas of investigation are at the core of Troja's research.[5]

Awards and Honors

Troja has won the following awards:

  • NASA Silver Achievement Medal (2018)[6]
  • Italian Bilateral Scientific Cooperation Award (2018)[7] to recognize an Italian eminent scientist who, in performing his/her research abroad, has made a remarkable contribution to the advancement of science and technology, thus improving Italy’s S&T relations with foreign countries and with International Organizations.


  1. Potter, Sean (2017-10-16). "NASA Missions Catch First Light from a Gravitational-Wave Event". NASA. Retrieved 2019-10-13.
  2. mewright (2017-10-16). "Neutron Star Merger Directly Observed for the First Time". College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. Retrieved 2019-10-13.
  3. "Astronomers Feast on First Light From Gravitational Wave Event". Gemini Observatory. 2017-10-16. Retrieved 2019-10-13.
  4. "Chandra Makes First Detection of X-rays from a Gravitational Wave Source: Interview with Chandra Scientist Eleonora Nora Troja". chandra.si.edu. Retrieved 2019-10-13.
  5. "Bio - Eleonora Troja". science.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
  6. "Awards Won - Search Results - Sciences and Exploration Directorate - 600". science.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2019-10-13.
  7. "UMD Astronomy: 2018 News". www.astro.umd.edu. Retrieved 2019-10-13.