Stellar and Gas Dynamics of Galactic Nuclei and Globular Clusters
One of the strongest research points of our group is the astrophysical phenomena related to dense stellar and gas systems, such as our own Galactic Center but also globular clusters, including mergers of nuclei and clusters, accretion disks, tidal disruption of stars and formation of gravitational wave sources. If in our solar system we have one Sun, in a similar volume at the Galactic Center we find not one, but a million of them. These extreme stellar densities lead to extremely interesting processes.
Nowadays it is well-established that in the centre of the Milky Way a massive black hole (MBH) with a mass of about four million solar masses is lurking. The key to understanding these holes, how some of them grow by orders of magnitude in mass is to understand the dynamics of the stars in the galactic neighborhood. [more]
In dense stellar systems such as globular clusters and dense nuclear clusters, the stellar densities achieved are huge compared to other regions in a galaxy. This leads to the dynamical formation of binaries of compact objects, which makes these systems the breeding ground of sources of gravitational waves for the advanced detectors LIGO and Virgo, which will be soon operational. [more]
One major goal of gravitational-wave astronomy is to detect gravitational waves from coalescing massive black hole binaries. The frequency that these binaries form and merge can be extracted from conventional astronomical observations, namely observing "tidal flares", the electromagnetic flashes following the tidal disruption of stars by massive black holes. [more]
In view of future gravitational wave detections, a new and exciting field of astrophysics is opening, namely multi-messenger astronomy incorporating gravitational radiation. This will deepen and challenge our understanding of the universe. The numerical modelling of astrophysical sources plays a central role in studying candidates for multi-messenger astronomy. [more]