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Thursday, October 11, 2018 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm
The Salpeter Lecture Series by
Fred Rasio, Joseph Cummings Professor Physics
CIERA, Northwestern University
FIFTY YEARS OF GLOBULAR CLUSTER DYNAMICS
The central cores of globular clusters can reach enormous stellar densities, such that dynamical interactions between stars (strong gravitational scatterings or even physical collisions) happen at high rates. As a result, these systems are very important dynamical factories for a whole zoo of interesting sources, some of which could not be formed elsewhere. Of particular current interest are sources involving compact binary stars. They include neutron-star X-ray binaries and their millisecond pulsar descendants, as well as merging black hole binaries, which are of central interest to gravitational wave astrophysics.
In this talk I will first review (briefly!) the history of this field, which started about half a century ago with the very first gravitational N-body simulations performed on some of the earliest electronic computers. Then I will introduce modern developments in our understanding of the structure and dynamical evolution of dense star clusters, focusing on the role played by binary stars and compact objects; indeed the most recent work from my group shows that stellar black holes may play a key role in regulating the dynamical evolution of globular clusters and in determining their present-day properties.