The Million Body Problem

Event Date: 
April 2, 2009
Dr. Douglas Heggie, University of Edinburgh

Once dismissed as an astronomical backwater, the study of star clusters now stands at a great cross-roads of most of the major streams of astronomical research: cosmology, galactic evolution, star formation, stellar evolution, pulsar astronomy, X-ray astronomy, stellar dynamics and computational astronomy. In this talk, Heggie will explain what star clusters are, and why they are important, and then focus on their dynamics. Containing about a million stars each, every star cluster is a real-life simulation of a gravitational many-body problem. Complicated as that sounds, physical arguments go a long way towards an outline solution.

Speaker Bio: 
Douglas Heggie is Professor of Mathematical Astronomy at the School of Mathematics and the Maxwell Institute for Mathematical Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He spent 10 years at Trinity College, Cambridge, as an undergraduate, PhD student and Research Fellow, before moving back to Edinburgh. He has been researching stellar dynamics for about 40 years. His particular interests are in the fast computer modelling of rich star clusters.