Massive stars –being up to a million times brighter than ordinary stars like our Sun– play many premier roles in astrophysics. They act as (I) Cosmic Engines: they transformed the pristine and dark Universe left after the Big Bang into the modern Universe in which we live today. We use them as (II) Cosmic Probes to study extreme physics and the most distant galaxies; and we monitor their eruptions and explosions as (III) Cosmic Transients. As a result, various fields in astrophysics heavily rely on the input of, now outdated, stellar models. Recently, large observing campaigns with world-class telescopes showed that the large majority of massive stars will interact with a binary companion.
The BinCosmos project (funded by a ERC starting grant) aims to investigate and quantify how binarity affects the many roles that Massive Stars play throughout Cosmic Time as (I) Engines, (II) Probes and (III) Transients.
Despite many pioneering studies in this direction, the exploration of these effects is in its infancy. Progress has been hampered by (i) the challenging nature of the simulations, (ii) the model uncertainties and until recently (iii) the lack of observational constraints. The BinCosmos project addresses these challenges by combining the strengths of complementary state-of-the-art computer simulations and direct confrontation with the wealth of observational data that taken with top-class facilities including the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Very Large Telescope in Chile.
Understanding the Role that Massive Stars played in transforming the Pristine Universe into the one we live today is key to understanding our own Cosmic Origin: a very small step towards the big question: ‘How did we get here?’
The core team of the BinComos Project exploration phase is located at the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy but consists of an international network of experts.
The BinWaves project (funded by the Netherlands Science Foundation through a Vidi grant) complements the BinWaves project and specifically aims to address major open questions concerning the progenitors of gravitational waves that can now be detected by the LIGO and Virgo ground based gravitational wave detectors.
The BinComos/BinWaves Group acknowledges funding from the following sources:
- European Research Council through a ERC starting grant, BinCosmos
- Netherlands Science Foundation through a vidi grant, BinWaves and a module 2 TOP grant
- European Commission (through a Marie Skłodowska-Curie research fellowship),
- NOVA, Netherlands Research School for Astrophysics (through their support of one PhD student Zapartas and indirect support through “overlap” funding
- University of Amsterdam and the Anton Pannekoek Institute (trough a MacGillavry Fellowship and support of one PhD position),
- International Astronomy Union (through a travel support grant)
- Leidsch Kerkhoven Bosccha Fonds (in the form of occasional grants to support travel of core team members)
- Kapteyn Studenten fonds (in the form of small travel support grants for students within the project),
Workshops and long-term programs
- Lorentz Center Leiden through their support of a dedicated workshops and travel support
- Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics for hosting long-term research programs and a fellowship and travel grants for groupmembers Gotberg, Renzo and De Mink.
- Aspen Center for Physics for hosting long-term research programs.