Aims and rationale

The evolution of stars is driven by both their internal chemical composition & total mass. A significant fraction, perhaps most, of the stars are born in binary- or multiple systems and may evolve to become solar-mass binaries of black holes (BBH’s) and other such compact remnants. The detection in late 2015 of gravitational waves (GW) from a coalescing stellar-mass BBH by the LIGO interferometer has opened up a new window for astrophysical research with wide-ranging implications for our understanding of the Universe.
This collaborative research project will focus on exploring key questions related to the origin of binary stars and BBH’s, with the goal to determine their links with high-energy flares and GW’s. To that end we will implement a two-part programme:

  • one part covering the early evolution of massive and multiple stars at birth;
  • the second part of the programme will examine the evolution of these rich populations, embedded in the host galaxy.

One key objective is to pin down the overall rates and mass distribution of BBHs, so as to put their origin in a clearer perspective with respect to observations.

Image credit: Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes