Title: Great Balls of FIRE: the Formation, Evolution, Destruction, and Gravitational Wave Production of Star Clusters in a Milky Way-Mass Galaxy
Abstract: Since 2015, The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) has detected nearly 100 gravitational waves from merging black holes and neutron stars, inaugurating a new era of observational astronomy. But how are the these systems actually formed in the first place, and what can that tell us about the lives and deaths of massive stars and the clusters and galaxies that make them? In this talk, I will attempt to answer that question by describing how massive and old star clusters, such as the globular clusters in the Milky Way, are the ideal site for the production of binary black holes. I will show how the dynamical assembly of binaries in these dense stellar environments is directly imprinted on the gravitational waves themselves, and how multiple mergers in star clusters can produce black holes with masses that that cannot be formed from the collapse of single stars. Finally I will place these results within the broader context of galaxy formation and assembly, describing a new project to model star clusters self-consistently from collapsing giant molecular clouds in an MHD simulation of a Milky Way-mass galaxy. These results can provide the first direct link between the study of globular cluster formation, the assembly of galaxies, massive black holes, and the future of gravitational-wave astronomy.
Astro Colloquium and 'coffee & cookies' Department gathering (3:30-3:45pm)
Please click the link to join: https://psu.zoom.us/j/92637070419