We aim to understand the formation of black holes. When a massive star (with mass >9 solar masses) reaches the end of its life and has no nuclear fuel left, its fate is to explode as a supernova or to collapse to a black hole quietly. After these steps, the remnant of the massive star is either a small neutron star, with mass slightly larger than our Sun, or a black hole, whose mass can be several ten solar masses.
The mechanisms driving the formation of a black hole are tremendously elusive: when does a star collapse to a black hole directly and when, instead, does it explode as a supernova?
Is there any link between the mass of the black hole and the main properties of its progenitor star (for example, the metal content or the mass of the progenitor star)?
Thanks to LIGO/Virgo, we know that black holes can be part of binary systems, that is two black holes can orbit about each other, in the same way as the Moon orbits around Earth. What are the formation channels of such binary black holes? Addressing this question is the main and very ambitious goal of the DEMOBLACK project.
We are computational astrophysicists: we use numerical simulations that require powerful super-computers. Our population-synthesis codes can follow the evolution of a binary system composed of two massive stars and can model the main properties of the black holes that can form from these stars. Our N-body codes integrate the dynamical evolution of a star cluster: a stellar body composed of 1000 or more stars, all of them very close to each other. A star or a black hole that live in a star cluster undergo extreme dynamical processes, which cannot happen elsewhere in the Galaxy. For example, they can undergo close encounters with other black holes and/or stars living in the star clusters. Such processes can significantly affect the properties of a black hole and can lead to the formation of very special binary black holes.
To know more, in this page you can find: a calendar of the public events we participate in, the slides of our most recent public conferences (most of them are in Italian), plus several images and videos we recently produced.