Abstract: The recent gravitational wave detections by LIGO/Virgo revolutionized the way we sense our Universe. These detections have resurfaced a long-standing question about the formation channels of merging black holes and raised new challenges about forming gravitational sources in general. Motivated by these challenges, I will suggest how few-body gravitational interactions in a dense environment can alleviate some of the difficulties in merging compact objects. I will particularly focus on the dense stellar clusters surrounding supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies. I will show how this channel can leave a clear signature on the gravitational-wave signals, allowing differentiation between different merger mechanisms. The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) can potentially be used to distinguish between channels.
Host: Salvatore Vitale
Research image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech