Program 2022

Tuesday 8th February 2022 - Aula Conversi 16:30 - 17:30

Volker Bromm, University of Texas at Austin

What do we know about the first stars and galaxies?

I will review the emerging theoretical framework for how stars, galaxies, and black holes transformed the early universe. Predictions for the enrichment of the intergalactic medium with heavy chemical elements, the rate of supernova explosions and gamma-ray bursts, as well as the number density and properties of the first galaxies, sensitively depend on the particle-physics nature of dark matter. To constrain the elusive first generation of stars, we can bring to bear a powerful combination of probes at high redshifts and in our local neighborhood. The latter approach, known as “stellar archaeology” holds particular promise in light of ongoing and planned large surveys of metal-poor stars, both in the Milky Way and its dwarf satellites. It is exciting to contemplate the decade ahead, when the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will allow us to confront theory with observations at the edge of time.

Wednesday 2nd March 2022 - Aula Conversi 16:30 - 17:30

Felix Aharonian, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK), Heidelberg, Germany

PeVatrons and the "Century-old-Mistery" of Galactic Cosmic Rays

Despite the recent advances in Cosmic Ray studies, the origin of Galactic Cosmic Rays (CRs) is still considered a "century-old mystery" - we do not know yet which sources contribute to CR fluxes measured in the Earth's vicinity. Identifying the major CR contributors with astronomical source populations is one of the highest priorities of the field. The best carriers of information about CR factories are gamma-rays and neutrinos - the only stable and neutral secondary products of CR interactions pointing to the CR production sites. The recent years' outstanding achievement of gamma-ray astronomy was the discovery of TeV gamma-radiation from SNRs generally supporting the SNR paradigm of the origin of Galactic CRs. On the other hand, the lack of the extension of gamma-ray spectra of young SNRs well beyond 10 TeV raises doubts about their ability to contribute to the highest energy galactic CR spectrum in the so-called "knee" region above 1 PeV. Meanwhile, the ultra-high-energy (UHE; E> 100 TeV) gamma-ray observations of the clusters of young massive stars demonstrate mounting evidence of these objects (and related superbubbles) being prime contributors to Galactic CRs at PeV energies. I will discuss these observations in the context of the concept of "Young Stars versus Dead Stars". The hunt for CR PeVatrons cannot be reduced merely to the identification of the sources contributing to the local "CR fog". The term 'cosmic rays' has broader implications; after matter, radiation and magnetic fields, the relativistic nonthermal plasma constitutes the fourth substance of the observable Universe. The localisation and exploration of physical conditions and processes in these extreme CR factories, independent of their relative contributions to the 'CR fog', is a fundamental issue in its own right. I will highlight the recent exciting achievements of UHE gamma-ray astronomy in elucidating the cites of extreme CR accelerators in the Milky Way and discuss the implications of the discovery of a large number of CR PeVatrons by the LHAASO collaboration.

Wednesday 6th April 2022 - Aula Conversi 16:30 - 17:30

Georges Meynet, University of Geneva

Stars at the Extreme: First Stars, Spinstars and Supermassive Stars

The presentation will focus on stars at some extreme either from the point of view of their mass (supermassive stars), rotation (spinstars) or initial composition (Pop III stars). The talk will begin by a general overview of the main challenges faced by the modeling of massive stars with a special focus on the transport processes in convective and radiative zones. Then the presentation will continue discussing recent results about the binary statistics of Pop III populations, the chemical and radiative feedback of Pop III stars, the evolution of very massive stars i.e. stars with masses between 150 and 300 solar masses at different metallicities addressing the question of the progenitor of Pair Instability supernovae and the limits of the mass domain for the black hole mass gap. Finally, new models for the formation of supermassive stars that are candidates as seeds for the formation of supermassive black holes at high redshift will be presented.

Thursday 5th of May 2022 - Aula Conversi 16:30 - 17:30

Rachel Somerville, Center for Computational Astrophysics Flatiron Institute

Developing new galaxy formation models that will help us Learn the Universe

Understanding and simulating galaxy formation from first principles is a huge computational challenge because of the vast range of scales and rich array of physics involved. Upcoming experiments will map galaxies and gas across unprecedented volumes and probe further back into cosmic time than ever before. These experiments have the potential to probe fundamental physics questions such as the nature of dark matter and dark energy, and the initial conditions of the Universe. But in order to extract the full scientific potential from these data, we need to understand how luminous tracers (stars and gas) are related to the underlying matter density field, and we must develop techniques that can accurately forward model the galaxy formation process with a computational efficiency that is orders of magnitude higher than standard numerical hydro/N-body techniques. I will describe the philosophy and status of the SMAUG (Simulating Multiscale Astrophysics to Understand Galaxies) project, and how it will form a pillar in the new Simons Collaboration "Learning the Universe", which will combine new galaxy formation models, new machine learning techniques, and simulation based inference to obtain constraints on cosmology and astrophysics.

Wednesday 25th May 2022 - Aula Conversi 16:30 - 17:30

Samaya Nissanke, University of Amsterdam

New perspectives onto the Universe in the era of Multi-messenger Astrophysics

Since the revolutionary discovery of gravitational wave (GW) emission from a binary black hole merger in 2015, the exquisite GW detectors LIGO, Virgo and KAGRA have detected more than 90 compat object mergers. Most notably, one of these mergers corresponds to the first binary neutron star merger, dubbed GW170817. This event has been transformative because it was observed in both gravitational and electromagnetic radiation, thus opening up a new era in multimessenger astrophysics. The multi-messenger characterisation of such an event has enabled major advances into diverse fields of modern physics from gravity, high-energy and extragalactic astrophysics, nuclear physics, to cosmology. In this talk, I will discuss work in strong-field gravity astrophysics and how combining observations, theory and experiment is key to make progress in this field. I will present the opportunities and challenges that have emerged in multi-messenger astrophysics, and what the future holds in this new era.

Wednesday 8th June 2022 - Aula Conversi 16:30 - 17:30

Elena Maria Rossi, Leiden Observatory

A multi-tracer study of the Local Group of galaxies

The Local Group, and the Milky Way in particular is a unique laboratory to study the process of galaxy assembly because of our vantage point. This is especially true in this era of current and up-coming (all sky) surveys like e.g. Gaia, WEAVE, 4MOST, DASI, LSST, and Euclid, that are delivering an unprecedented astrometric, spectroscopic and photometric view of the Galactic stellar population. In this talk, I will review my group's work --both theoretical and observational -- towards the understanding of the mass distribution and other properties of the Milky Way using different dynamical tracers such as stellar streams and hypervelocity stars. Looking at the future, I will also show my vision for Galactic studies in the LISA era, when gravitational waves will deliver complementary information with respect to electromagnetic waves.

Monday 4th July 2022 - Aula Conversi 16:30 - 17:30

Pascal Oesch, University of Geneva

Our Panchromatic View of Galaxy Build-up at Cosmic Dawn into the JWST Era

The first deep images with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) have transformed our view of the Universe. Over the following more than two decades, HST continued to extend our cosmic horizon reaching to only ~400 Myr after the Big Bang at z~11. In combination with other observations across the electromagnetic spectrum, from the rest-frame optical with Spitzer/IRAC, and now all the way to (sub)mm wavelengths with ALMA/NOEMA, we are gaining a more and more complete census and understanding of galaxy build-up across 97% of cosmic history. Yet some critical gaps remain, mainly because (1) our galaxy samples are still mostly rest-UV selected at z>3, and (2) we still only have highly-incomplete spectroscopic information at z>6. In this talk, I will present an overview of our current understanding of star-forming galaxies at z>3 based on our panchromatic view from HST+Spitzer+ALMA/NOEMA data. This will be completely revolutionized over the next months, however, as the first observations with the JWST are being taken. In particular, JWST will provide deep rest-frame optical data out to z=10, both in imaging and spectroscopy, which is truly unprecedented. JWST will thus finally allow us to probe the physics of the first generations of galaxies that ended the cosmic Dark Ages and started the reionization of the Universe.

Wednesday 26th October 2022 - Aula Conversi 16:30 - 17:30

Annalisa Pillepich, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg

Constraining quenching mechanisms via observations and simulations of the gas around galaxies

Large-volume cosmological galaxy simulations, such as IllustrisTNG, provide a holistic view on galaxies and on how their evolution depends on the interplay of internal and external physical phenomena. Among the internal mechanisms, feedback from super massive black holes (SMBHs) is commonly invoked in such numerical models to halt star formation in massive galaxies. In fact, no other mechanism so far has been shown to be capable of returning entire populations of simulated massive quenched galaxies that are consistent with the observed galaxy red sequence and quenched fractions. With simulations like IllustrisTNG we are putting together ever more quantitative and plausible evidences as to the role that feedback from SMBH can have, not only in shaping galaxy structural properties and galaxy populations across 90 per cent of the Universe’s history, but also in regulating the thermodynamical, ionization, and metal enrichment properties of the cosmic gas across halo scales and beyond. In this talk, I will use the outcome of the IllustrisTNG and other simulations in combination with current and future observational data, chiefly SDSS galaxy data and eROSITA X-ray observations, to further our understanding of the tight interconnections between SMBHs, star-formation quenching, and the physical state of the circumgalactic medium.

Thursday 20th April 2023 - Aula Conversi 16:30 - 17:30

Carole Haswell, The Open University

Towards the geology of exoplanets