General Relativity and Dynamics in Galactic Centers
420 (Watanabe Hall)
2505 Correa Road
In most regions of the Universe, stellar orbits have enormous mean free paths, and the timescale for a strong two-body encounter exceeds a Hubble time. However, in dense stellar systems, such as open, globular, and nuclear star clusters, close encounters between stars and/or compact objects are frequent, and may lead to the production of transient electromagnetic or gravitational-wave radiation. I will present my research showing how the densest stellar systems in the Universe — galactic nuclei — are dynamical factories that manufacture transient sources such as X-ray binaries, tidal disruption events, and LIGO-band black hole mergers. I will then discuss my past and ongoing work to understand the transient electromagnetic and gravitational radiation from these dynamically assembled systems, focusing especially on ways in which time domain astronomy can probe general relativity.