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Formation of Black Hole Mergers in Dense Stellar Systems

Project description

Creating more accurate models of black hole mergers

The recent observation of gravitational waves from the cosmic neighbourhood of two merging black holes opened up a new era of astronomy, allowing scientists to see parts of the Universe once thought to be invisible. Einstein’s theory of general relativity seemed to perfectly describe the events associated with the merger of the two stellar-mass black holes. Despite the confirmation of black hole existence, there are some big questions that scientists still need to answer. These mainly relate to how and where black holes form or what helps them get close enough to merge on an observable timescale. The EU-funded BlackHoleMergers project will try to address these fundamental questions via new Monte-Carlo methods that more accurately model binary star mergers.


The recent pioneering observations of gravitational waves (GWs) from merging black holes (BHs) by LIGO/Virgo have already led to new remarkable insight: From the first few events we have learned that BHs do indeed exist, that Einstein's General Relativity (GR) seems to very well describe their merger and ring-down evolution, and that nature is able to pair BHs in compact binary systems. However, many astrophysical key questions still remain unsolved, including, how and where BHs form and what helps them to get close enough to merge on an observable timescale. The project I propose will provide new state-of-the-art insight into such fundamental questions by addressing how BBHs form and merge in dense stellar systems, as well as how well one can infer their origin from their emitted GW signal. In order to achieve this goal, I will develop a new numerical Monte-Carlo framework for evolving dense stellar systems, which for the first time will include: stellar tidal interactions and GR corrections during strong few-body scatterings, orbital diffusion from weak encounters, and secular effects near a possible central massive BH. From my recent analytical models, these effects are expected to lead to the formation of eccentric BBH mergers, as well as other exotic populations, all of which can be used to constrain the dynamical origins of BBHs. The goal is to provide the community with accurate BBH merger distributions that can be used to constrain the origin of BBH mergers using incoming data from LIGO/Virgo. I will carry out the project at the Niels Bohr Institute under the supervisions of Prof. Martin Pessah and Niels Bohr Prof. Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz. The interdisciplinary environment, vibrant atmosphere, and exceptional scientists make the Niels Bohr Institute not only the ideal host for this project, but further ensures that I will mature into a true intellectual leader in my field during the time of the Marie Curie Fellowship.


Net EU contribution
€ 219 312,00
Norregade 10
1165 Kobenhavn

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Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00