Aspen 2009 Aspen 2009


The public lecture by Ed Van den Heuvel has been a great success (thanks again Ed !). The lectures were taped by Grassroots TV and are now available online, on demand at . Click the 'More Video on Demand' button at the bottom of the page. Type in 'physics' in the Show Search window (top left) and a menu comes up. This winter's lectures say (view). When the screen comes up, click the play button and then be patient as it takes a half-minute to load.

Click here to see the conference poster

Scientific Organizing Commitee: Silvia Zane (chair), Roberto Turolla (co-chair), Gianluca Israel (co-chair), Chryssa Kouveliotou (co-chair), Felix Aharonian, Bryan Gaensler, Frank Haberl, Alice Harding, Sandro Mereghetti, Dany Page, George Pavlov, Andrea Possenti, Jacco Vink, Dima Yakovlev, Peter Woods

Scientific Rationale Neutron stars are born when a massive star ends its life in a core-collapse supernova explosion. All the physical conditions in these objects are extreme. With central densities 5-10 times larger than the nuclear density, they represent one of the densest forms of matter in the universe. Moreover, neutron stars are the strongest known magnets. Their surface magnetic field, normally in the TeraGauss range, may reach values 1000 times higher in the so-called "magnetars", largely exceeding the critical field above which effects of nonlinear quantum electrodynamics become important. Therefore, neutron stars provide excellent laboratories to probe the properties of matter under conditions that can not be observed in ground-based experiments, or in most astrophysical environments.
Multi-wavelength observations have changed dramatically our vision of neutron stars, very much the same way a panchromatic view of the world compares to a black and white one. Originally discovered as pulsars, Isolated Neutron Stars (INSs) have now been observed across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, up to high-energy gamma-rays, and they exhibit a complex and much diverse phenomenology. In particular, high energy observations unveiled peculiar classes of radio silent INSs, whose existence would have passed unnoticed otherwise, e.g. Soft Gamma Repeaters (SGRs), Anomalous X-ray Pulsars (AXPs), Central Compact Objects (CCOs) in supernova remnants and X-ray Dim Isolated Neutron Stars (XDINSs). It is presently unknown whether the phenomenology we observe in these different sources and our classification thereof reflects differences in intrinsic properties (for example progenitors with different masses, or different spin periods and/or magnetic field strengths at birth) or is a consequence of evolution. Explaining the different INSs manifestations, the physics behind them, and the relations among different INSs types is one of the most challenging goals in compact objects astrophysics and offers the key to the ultimate understanding of the endpoints of massive star evolution.
The most extreme INS subgroup is that of AXPs and SGRs. Both these types of sources undergo periods of erratic bursting activity, and the latter even emit giant flares, hyper-energetic events which can outshine for a fraction of a second the entire Galaxy. There is strong evidence that these flares excite torsional mode oscillations in the neutron star crust that could provide unique insight into the equation of state of these highly-magnetized stars. These sources are, in fact, currently believed to be the strongest magnets in the cosmos, hosting NSs with a magnetic field as large as 1e14- 1e15 G.
It has been now almost 30 years since the first spectacular giant flare was detected on March 5th 1979 from SGR 0526-66, the first observational indication of the existence of a magnetar. Since then, the neutron star research, both observational and theoretical, has flourished. In particular, the advent of the latest generation space- and ground-based observatories has largely impacted on our knowledge of magnetars and other classes of neutron stars. All these objects are now studied in the whole electromagnetic spectrum, with ground-based radio, optical and infrared telescopes, and with the latest X- and Gamma-ray observatories (including RXTE, INTEGRAL, Chandra, XMM-Newton, SWIFT and AGILE.
Goal of this meeting is to bring together observers and theoreticians working in magnetar astrophysics in a conference that will focus on breakthrough research linking astronomy, particle and condensed matter physics. Among the topics to be discussed during the conference are:

For further information on traveling to and lodging in Aspen check the Center for Physics webpage, or contact
Ms. Jane Kelly
Aspen Center for Physics
700 W. Gillespie Street
Aspen, CO 81611, USA
(970) 925-2585, fax (970) 920-1167

Photo credit: SGR 1806-20 (NASA)
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