Formation and Evolution of Globular Clusters

Coordinators: Frederic Rasio, Alison Sills, Enrico Vesperini, Stephen Zepf

This conference is now full. Thank you for your interest

Globular clusters are complex astrophysical systems whose evolution is determined by stellar dynamics, stellar evolution, the properties and the dynamical history of their host galaxies as well as the interplay among all these elements. The formation and evolution of globular clusters is a subject which has implications for all areas of astrophysics, from cosmology to galaxy formation to stellar evolution. There has been extraordinary recent progress in this area of astrophysics, both at the observational level (e.g., from Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra observations of both Galactic and extragalactic globular clusters) and in theoretical work (e.g., from Fokker-Planck and N-body simulations of globular cluster dynamics on supercomputers).

The three main themes of the conference are:
  1. Dynamical modelling of Galactic globular clusters

    Star-by-star N-body models of Galactic globular clusters are just on the horizon. The next generation GRAPE (GRAPE-DR) will allow even larger direct N-body simulations of star clusters. Monte Carlo methods are already large enough for detailed modeling and direct comparison of numerical results with observational properties of individual clusters. By understanding the current state of our local representatives of these complex objects, we can uncover the secrets of their formation and evolution.

  2. Compact objects in Galactic and extragalatic globular clusters

    A wide range of astrophysical problems of great current interest are associated with the presence of compact objects (black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs) in dense star cluster environments. The formation of many exotic systems (e.g., massive black holes, accreting compact objects in X-ray binaries, millisecond radio pulsars, compact binaries emitting gravitational radiation) can be triggered by dynamical processes taking place in dense stellar systems, and, in turn, the presence of these compact objects can have a profound influence on the overall dynamical evolution of the star clusters around them.

  3. Formation and evolution of globular clusters and globular cluster systems

    Our understanding of globular cluster formation is rapidly improving. Much recent progress has come from new observations of extragalactic globular cluster systems and, in particular, from HST observations of cluster formation in starburst galaxies and in interacting and merging galaxies. Significant advances have also been realized in numerical simulations of structure formation in the high-redshift universe, which are now beginning to probe the relevant scales.

Abstract Submission Information

Note that the AAS Winter meeting will be held in nearby Long Beach, California during the preceding week (January 7-10, 2009).

The MODEST-9 workshop will be held at KITP immediately after this conference, starting after lunch on January 16 and continuing through Saturday, January 17. Further information will be made available later. If you have questions about this meeting, please contact Fred Rasio.