Centro de Ciencias de Benasque Pedro Pascual

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Dense Stellar Environments as a Probe of Astrophysics and General Relativity: What can we learn from the first GW detection?

2016, Jun 05 -- Jun 18

P. Amaro-Seoane (Albert Einstein-Institute)
M. Dotti (U. Milano)

The study of galactic nuclei has advanced rapidly during the past few years. Observations using adaptive optics, have allowed us to study the kinematics of stars and gas in regions reaching down to sub-parsec scales for external galaxies, and to the milliparsec range for the Milky Way. An outstanding conclusion is that dark compact objects, very probably massive black holes (MBH), with masses ranging between a million and a thousand million solar masses, occupy the centres of most galaxies for which such observations can be made. We have discovered that there exists a deep link between the central MBH and its host galaxy. Claims of detection of “intermediate-mass” black holes (IMBHs, with masses between 100 and 10,000 solar masses) raise the possibility that these correlations extend to much smaller systems, but the strongest -if not totally conclusive- observational evidences for the existence of IMBHs are ultra-luminous X-ray sources. The origins of these IMBH are still shrouded in mystery, and many aspects of their interplay with the surrounding stellar cluster remain to be elucidated. A particularly important mode of interaction between stars and the MBH/IMBH is the disruption of stars by the strong central tidal field. This can trigger phases of bright accretion, possibly already observed in several galaxies as X-ray/UV flares. Secondly, collapsed stars such as neutron stars, white dwarves and stellar-mass black holes might be swallowed whole by the central MBH. This process is the result of a slow inspiral towards the event horizon because of the emission of gravitational waves (GWs). The detection of these small ripples of space and time constitute a unique and parallel way to probe the Universe, by reaching loci otherwise unaccessible to the photon.

Workshop Description

The goal of the workshop is to address crucial questions in dynamics and GR as focused on the interplay between gravitational wave (GW) and electromagnetic observations as a tool of astronomical discovery and a probe of the fundamental physics of gravity. The new information obtained from current or future electromagnetic and GW observations provides an opportunity to challenge and refine theoretical models. Refinements in these models will have direct consequences for the expected science that can be done with GW observatories. The workshop will bring experts from rather different fields: stellar dynamicists, observers from optical and X/UV-ray, astrometry, general relativity and numerical modeling of different regimes (from kiloparsec distances to parsecs down to the horizon of the massive black hole). While these communities – theoretical and observational astrophysics, general relativity, cosmology – have made significant collaborative progress over recent years, we believe that it is indispensable to future advancement that they draw closer, and that they speak a common idiom.

Registration fee information

The registration fee for this conference is:

Regular fee: 250 eur.
One week or less fee: 200 eur.

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The registration fee must be paid to the account of the Centro de Ciencias de Benasque Pedro Pascual after your application has been accepted.

Ibercaja (account number): 2085 2310 3803 3004 4193
IBAN: ES44 2085 2310 3803 3004 4193

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*Cancellation Policy*
A 30 euro charge will be applied for cancellations made up to 10 days before the conference start date.
A no refund policy will be applied to cancellations made after this date.

Further Information.

This session has received financial support from the following institutions:

  • logo CSIC
  • Gobierno de Aragón
  • Ministerio de educación y ciencia
  • DPH
  • Universidad de Zaragoza
  • Ayuntamiento de Benasque


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