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HEP Seminar: Zooming in on Galactic Nuclei at the Dawn of Gravitational Wave Astronomy

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Bence Kocsis, Institute for Advanced Study
When
09 April 2014 from 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM
Where
339 Davey Laboratory
Contact Name
Contact Phone
814-865-0418
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The rapid development of gravitational wave instruments will open a
completely new window on the Universe. In this talk, I will describe
how this may revolutionize our understanding of galactic nuclei.
Galactic nuclei host a central supermassive black hole, a dense
population of stars and compact objects, and in many cases a bright
gaseous disk feeding the central supermassive black hole. These systems may be a treasure trove of gravitational wave sources. Recent electromagnetic observations revealed interesting structures including
counterrotating disks and an isotropic central cluster of young stars.
I will demonstrate that these structures can be naturally explained by
methods commonly used in condensed matter physics. Stars and compact
objects collectively resemble a gigantic liquid crystal, which can
exhibit phase transitions. Gravitational wave observations may tell us
if there is a central dark cluster or dark disk of compact objects.
Ground-based gravitational wave observatories will be able to
constrain the distribution and mass function of black holes. Pulsar
timing can provide a detailed map of this region with unprecedented
resolution and locate intermediate mass black holes, if present.

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