Particle Astrophysics Seminar: Time-Domain Astrophysics in a Multi-Messenger World

  • Jan. 27, 2020, 3:00 pm
  • Curia II
  • Kate Alexander, Northwestern University

Time-domain astrophysics provides a unique opportunity to study the most extreme physical processes in the Universe, including the deaths of massive stars, the destruction and creation of compact objects like neutron stars and black holes, and the tidal disruption of stars by supermassive black holes. Recently, with the pioneering detections of gravitational waves, astronomers and physicists have gained a new, complementary tool to study compact object mergers, with implications for fields as wide-ranging as general relativity, nuclear physics, cosmology, and shock physics. In this multi-messenger context, I will discuss recent radio observations that reveal the evolution and structure of relativistic jets and outflows in extreme astrophysical transients, including gamma-ray bursts and tidal disruption events. These observations may provide insight into the formation of such jets and outflows, which is still poorly understood. Radio data also provide the best constraints on the density of the surrounding medium, probing models of black hole accretion and stellar evolution.