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Merging black holes in nuclear star clusters

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Massive stellar clusters are often found at the photometric and kinematic centers of galaxies. Such nuclear clusters are the densest stellar systems observed in the local universe, representing a natural environment where compact object binaries can dynamically form, harden and merge. I will discuss the dynamical processes that lead to themerger of black hole binaries in nuclear clusters in connection to the origin of the gravitational wave sources detected by Advanced LIGO /VIRGO. I will show that nuclear clusters can produce a significant population of black hole binaries that merge in the local universe, and that these binaries have clear differences in the statistical distributions of their properties (e.g., mass, eccentricity) when compared to those formed either in globular clusters or through isolated binary evolution.

This talk is part of the Institute of Astronomy Galaxies Discussion Group series.

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