Arianna Picotti

Arianna Picotti (Italy)

picotti @

Evolution and growth of nuclear star clusters 

A significant fraction of galaxies across the Hubble sequence shows a very dense and massive system of stars residing in their central regions, called nuclear star clusters (NSC), sometimes co-existing with a central massive black hole (MBH). The masses of both MBHs and NSCs seem to correlate with the mass of their host galaxies which suggests that their formation is in someway linked to that of their host galaxies. As a consequence the study of the evolution and growth of nuclear star clusters is essential for a complete understanding of galaxy formation.
In order to understand in detail the dynamical structure and stellar population synthesis of such systems, we plan to perform dynamical modelling of a sample of approximately 20 nearby NSCs, using near-infrared XSHOOTER long-slit data of their stellar kinematics. This study will allow us to measure the masses and mass-to-light-ratios of these objects.
The observations will additionally provide us with information about the presence of gas, which will be used for the preparation of follow-up observations of their gas kinematics using JWST and ALMA. Moreover, we plan to study the star formation histories and abundances of our sample of NSCs, using XSHOOTER spectroscopic observations in a wide range of wavelengths (X-ray, visible and NIR).
The results of our study will then provide an observational framework for the construction of numerical simulations of the formation of NSCs. The simulated NSCs dynamical and chemical properties will be compared to the ones retrieved from the observations, allowing us to constrain the possible pathways of NSCs growth and evolution. The simulations can also help us to identify possible observational signatures which can be used in the planning for future observations.

Supervisor: Nadine Neumayer  (MPIA)

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