Duilia de Mello


  • Physics
  • School

  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • Expertise

  • Astrophysics; Galactic Astronomy; Evolved stars: Red giants
  • Red supergiants
  • AGB stars; Atmospheres of evolved stars
  • Stellar Evolution; Exoplanets; General Astronomy.
  • Biography

    Dr. Gioia Rau joined Catholic University of America in November 2017, working at Goddard Space Flight Center in the Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics lab.

    Dr. Rau studies the atmospheres of cool, giant stars, focusing on their chromospheric and atmospheric activity. She does so combining high-spectral resolution space-based Hubble Space Telescope data, with high-angular resolution ground-based interferometric data from observatories such as CHARA, ESO’s VLTI, and ALMA. She has been awarded several observing proposals as PI and Co-I.

    Before that, in 2017 she was a visiting research scientist at ESO/Garching (Germany), after completing her PhD in Vienna (Austria, 2012-2016) on the study of Atmospheres of carbon-rich Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) stars, which received the prestigious fellowship grant "Abschlussstipendium, Universität Wien".
    She received her Master degree with honors (cum laude) at La Sapienza University in 2011. In the final year of her Master she was awarded, for being 1 of the 4 students among the whole Science faculty (including Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology) having the highest-grade point average, the prestigious “Master Thesis' fellowship abroad”. Thanks to this she developed her Master Thesis at NASA/JPL-CalTech.

    Link to CV: https://www.gioiarau.com/cv

    Link to publications: https://www.gioiarau.com/publications

    Research Interests

    Research interests include: Atmospheres and chromospheres of cool, evolved stars (AGB stars, K-M giants and supergiants), Stellar evolution, Mass loss & stellar parameters, Cosmic dust, Circumstellar environments, High-angular resolution optical interferometry, Radio/sub-mm interferometry, Exoplanets. Previous: Cosmology, CMB.

    Current Projects

    Studying the chromospheric emission of red giant and red supergiant stars with the CHARA     
    • HST observations of cool evolved stars, modeling their chromospheric emission to understand their mass
    • Investigating the origin of the molecular and dust environment in the atmospheres of AGB stars with the
       ESO's VLT interferometer, and consequently their mass loss.
    • Properties of Eta Carinae with ALMA.
    • TESS, K2 and other NASA missions’ observations of cool, evolved stars.

    Other Activities

    Gioia’s passion for Astrophysics and research started early in her life, when she discovered the fascination and joy that learning about the Universe brings her. Since 2008 she founds exciting and rewarding to communicate with the public, being enthusiastically active in public outreach, and believing in the importance of promoting the role of science in society. Indeed, outside scientific research, one of Gioia's greatest passion is outreach. She has been working at the Planetarium of Rome and has been involved with several astronomical expositions, events, and conferences, in the DC area, Vienna, and Rome. She is also passionate about philosophy, art, nature, photography, volleyball, skiing, and loves spending time in the Nature.