Seminars in 2024


Thomas González Roberts

Who is following the rules in space?

Assessing GEO satellite operators’ compliance with ITU orbital assignments


Michal Zajaček

IMBHs in galactic nuclei: Potential dynamical and spectral signatures

In the local Universe as well as in more distant galaxies, detected black holes (using electromagnetic or gravitational waves) mostly fall into two categories in terms of their mass: stellar black holes (<100 Msun) and massive black holes (>10^5 Msun). The intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs, 100 Msun < M < 10^5 Msun) appear to be rather rare, which is most likely due to several characteristics, such as the environment where they form and their subsequent accretion mode. I will start the talk by reviewing IMBH formation mechanisms, with the focus on their occurrence in galactic nuclei, which are the densest systems in galaxies. Then I will list several specific examples, where supposedly IMBHs could be present, including the Galactic center. In the rest of my talk, I will describe in more detail the extragalactic source first identified by the ASASSN survey, which exhibited quasiperiodic enhancements in the soft X-ray absorption every 8.5 days. In other words, the source has a quasiperiodic ultrafast outflow that can obscure the inner accretion flow. Using analytical as well as GRMHD simulations, we show that the source properties are best described by an IMBH orbiting around the SMBH.


Maureen Henderson

Angular Momentum, a novel-in-progress: incorporating research in fiction

A decade ago I fell in love with an artist’s rendering in an astronomy textbook, an illustration of the concept of angular momentum as it occurs in binary stars. A few years later, I visited Prague for the first time. Ever since, taking angular momentum as a metaphor for human relationships, and reflecting on the tenacity of the Czechs in surviving successive authoritarian regimes, the science, the city, and the country have been inspiring the writing of a novel. Angular Momentum has become a story about the challenge of making human connections in difficult circumstances, and the importance of finding ones’s convictions in dangerous times. I’ll be talking about how I’ve conducted research in astronomy and in Czech history and culture, and the problem of selecting the specific details that illuminate character and setting while maintaining the momentum of story.


Ivana Ebrová

Stellar kinematics and merger histories of early-type galaxies

Seemingly smooth and boring elliptical and lenticular galaxies (ETGs) tend to be secretive about details of their current and past life experiences. Now, in the era of spatially resolved spectroscopic surveys on one hand and deep imaging surveys on the other, we started to reveal the wealth of different features in statistically significant samples of ETGs. We use the publicly available data of the Illustris project — a set of large-scale cosmological hydrodynamical simulations — to study the origin and characteristics of galaxies with prolate rotation (i.e. rotation around the long axis) and kinematically distinct cores. We found that basically all the simulated massive prolate rotators were created in relatively recent major mergers of galaxies. Such mergers are expected to produce tidal features (tails, shells, asymmetric stellar halos) that should be visible in sufficiently deep images. We combine archival data and new observations (using the 1.4m Milankovic telescope) to assemble deep optical images of the complete sample of all known nearby massive prolate rotators and compare their frequency of tidal disturbance with a general sample of ETGs in MATLAS — a deep imaging survey. The most frequent tidal features among the prolate rotators happen to be shells. We developed methods that allow us to exploit the special kinematics of stellar shells to calculate the probable time of the merger from deep optical images. Shells will allow us to make such estimates for a large portion of the sample and compare it with the predictions of the Illustris simulation. In our current project of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, we plan to expand the methods to use them on even larger samples of shell galaxies supplied by upcoming large surveys like LSST at Rubin Observatory. This will provide an unprecedented amount of statistically significant data on the recent merger history of our Universe and allow extensive investigation of impact of mergers to a wide range of other astrophysical phenomena.


Gerardo Urrutia

The large-scale interaction between short GRB jets and disk wind outflows

Short GRBs are produced by relativistic jets arising from binary NS-NS or NS-BH mergers. Since the detection of the first unambiguous off-axis GRB 170817A, we learned that energy distribution in the jet plays an important role in explaining the GRB emission. The structure and dynamics are modified during the first seconds of the jet interaction with a post-merger environment. Conventional studies often assume this environment as a simple homologous and symmetrically expanding wind. However, post-merger outflows exhibit complex dynamics influenced by the accretion disc evolution. Moreover, the r-process nucleosynthesis influences the thermodynamics and properties of the post-merger neutron-rich environment. During the talk, I will show the results of numerical simulations studying the impact of realistic post-merger disc outflow over the jet dynamics at large scales. Our results are substantially different from the typical model with symmetric homologous wind. a) the impact of the r-process on initial wind pressure leads to significant changes in the jet collimation and cocoon expansion; b) the angular structure of thermal and kinetic energy components in the jets, cocoons, and winds differ concerning simple homologous models, hence it would affect the predictions of GRB afterglow emission; c) the temporal evolution of the structure reveals conversion of thermal to kinetic energy being different for each component in the system (jet, cocoon, and wind); d) post-merger environments influence energy structure and material dispersion, altering the interaction between jets and disk winds.


Marcel Štolc

Gappy accretion disc study via SED profile signatures

Spectral energy distribution (SED) can serve as an effective tool in investigating the parameters of the inner region around the central black hole. The study aims to focus on the UV/optical bands in the context of the additional components to the standard active galaxy nuclei (AGNs). We propose a set of scenarios involving the following perturbative elements, namely i) advection driven accretion flow (ADAF) component in the inner region; ii) a secondary black hole component; and iii) a combination of both components. We simulate and comment on the qualitative differences in the UV photometric data and subsequently attempt to retrieve the initial system parameters based on the uncertainties of 2% and 10% in the measured flux, respectively for a given scenario. We also introduce the intrinsic reddening component, as a variation of scenario i) with noticeable similarities to the ADAF component effect, and contemplate their possible disentanglement.


Vojtěch Partík

Exploring Galaxy Evolution in the Virgo Cluster

This project takes advantage of the Widefield Arecibo Virgo Environment Survey (WAVES), one of the last major HI projects undertaken at Arecibo prior to its collapse. HI, neutral atomic hydrogen, provides important information both on how gas undergoes star formation and how the environment influences galaxy evolution, with signatures of gravitational interactions being more easily detectable using the HI as it is less tightly bound to the galaxy than the stellar disc. Using two adjacent survey fields totalling 20 square degrees, a catalogue of the HI detections will be provided. Advanced visualisation tools will be used to search for extended, asymmetrical HI features that are characteristic of galaxy interactions, and by correlating the HI with the optical data, a search will be performed for objects without optical counterparts. Eight such features were already detected in the earlier AGES (Arecibo Galaxy Environment Survey) examination of Virgo, and by doubling the survey size in this region, we may double the sample size of the number of optically dark clouds. The improved statistics will allow us to compare them with various models that have been proposed to explain these unusual objects, as well as examining how the gas content of galaxies compares with theoretical models of gas removal known to be occurring in the cluster.


Pierre Vermot

NEBIRAA: NEural Based Image Reconstruction Algorithm for Astronomy

In the past few years I have developed a Machine-Learning-based imaging algorithm for astronomy, which can be applied to a wide range of instruments and observing setups. During this talk, I will present the method in a general way, its current state of development, its strengths and weaknesses, and detail how it can be applied to perform either interferometric image reconstruction or adaptive optics deconvolution. I will illustrate this work by applying it to various state-of-the-art infrared observations of NGC 1068, my favorite nearby AGN.


Andreas Eckart

Discovery of a dense association of stars in the vicinity of the supermassive black hole Sgr A*

Discussion of IRS 1W (N-sources) project progress, constraints on IMBH idea, and the paper proceedings.


Huanian Zhang

DESI & CSST Era For Galaxy Evolution

The galaxy is surrounded by large amouts of gas in the outskirt, which is known as the circumgalactic medium (CGM). The CGM, as the bridge connecting the central galaxy and the large-scale environment, is playing a critical role in galaxy evolution. DESI (Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument) is already starting its 5-year spectroscopic survey, which will ultimately collect more than 30 million spectra. CSST (China Space Station Telescope) is an image survey covering > 17000 square degrees. The combination of the image and spectra will broaden the constraint on the galaxy evolution. In this talk, I will present the detection of the CGM via emission lines using SDSS and DESI-EDR spectra, and will also present how the 5-year DESI data is going to deepen the study of the CGM. I will also introduce the dwarf galaxy search using both CSST and DESI, to constrain the galaxy evolution at the low mass end. 


Brankica Kubátová & Vaclav Pavlik

Joint Journal Club

Two papers will be presented: 1) Brankica Kubátová "On the nature of massive helium star winds and Wolf-Rayet-type mass-loss" Sander+2020 MNRAS 2) Vaclav Pavlik "The structural properties of multiple populations in globular clusters: the instructive case of NGC 3201" Cadelano+2024 accepted A&A


Alessandro Lattanzi

A fresh look at exoplanets' habitability

Out of over 5500 known exoplanets, there could be up to 70 potentially habitable worlds. To refine the notion of a habitable-zone planet, we seek to study the dynamics of the systems harbouring these objects to better gauge the planets' present-day conditions.


Vadim Kravtsov

Probing the physics of black hole and neutron star X-ray binaries with polarimetry

My talk will be focused on a class of objects known as X-ray binary stars. In the introduction I will describe what an X-ray binary is, what their types are, what physical processes take place in them and what observational features they lead to. Then I will briefly remind the audience about the concept of polarization, where it comes from and how, and most importantly, why it should be measured in the case of X-ray binaries, using the results of four-year-long work on my doctoral dissertation as an example. In particular, I will discuss the models for orbitally-variable optical and X-ray polarization that we have developed in our Turku HEA group and show what constraints on the physical parameters of such systems we can impose by using them.


Jorge Morgado Jopia

ALMA Observatory: Science Operations and PMG role

The ALMA Observatory is renowned for its cutting-edge contributions to astronomical research. However, the success of ALMA's scientific endeavors is underpinned by meticulous program management and robust technical operations. This presentation delineates the integral roles and responsibilities of the ALMA Program Management Group (PMG), highlighting its mission to ensure efficient and effective program management and high-quality data acquisition. The PMG is tasked with the oversight of ALMA's observation execution, rigorous tracking of program statuses, and stringent data quality control. Comprising a Program Manager and eight Data Analysts, with the support of approximately thirty Astronomers on Duty (AoD), the group orchestrates the observation executions from the ALMA Control rooms at the Operations Support Facility (OSF) and the Santiago Central Offices (SCO). Key operational tasks include monitoring the status of all ALMA Projects and SchedBlocks (SBs), ensuring antenna readiness for science operations, and optimizing data acquisition through effective quality assurance (QA0). The team also coordinates calibration surveys and ensures the efficient use of ALMA observing time. In this presentation, the PMG's mission, core operational activities, and the data acquisition process will be discussed, underscoring the group's commitment to excellence in program management and data quality. Additionally, an analysis of recent performance metrics based on ALMA's Key Performance Indicators (KPI) will be presented, showcasing the group's contributions to ALMA's operational success.


Jan Scholtz

Searching for AGN in the era of JWST

With the launch of JWST, we are now able to identify and study a population of moderate luminosity AGN above the redshift of 4 and constrain their growth and impact on their host galaxies. I will present results from the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES), a joined 800 hours of NIRCam + NIRSpec GTO survey designed to give us an unparalleled view of the rest-frame UV and optical emission of early galaxies and AGN up to z=14. With this unique and deep data set, I will describe the benefits and pitfalls of selecting AGN at high redshifts. Finally, I will discuss our new constraints on seeding supermassive black holes and the role of AGN feedback in the early Universe.


Cosimo Bambi

Towards a new generation of reflection models for precision measurements of accreting black holes

Blurred reflection features are commonly observed in the X-ray spectra of accreting black holes. In the presence of high-quality data and with the correct astrophysical model, X-ray reflection spectroscopy is a powerful tool to probe the strong gravity region of black holes, study the morphology of the accreting matter, measure black hole spins, and test Einstein's theory of General Relativity in the strong field regime. In the past 10-15 years, there has been significant progress in the development of the analysis of these reflection features, thanks to both more sophisticated theoretical models and new observational data. However, the next generation of X-ray missions (e.g. eXTP, Athena, HEX-P) promises to provide unprecedented high-quality data, which will necessarily require more accurate synthetic reflection spectra than those available today. In this talk, I will review the state-of-the-art in reflection modeling and I will present current efforts to develop a new generation of reflection models with machine learning techniques.

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