TGF Fellow 2012

Anna Lisa Varri is a doctoral student in Astrophysics at the Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy), under the supervision of Professor Giuseppe Bertin. For her Master's thesis in Physics, she studied the construction of nonspherical stellar dynamical equilibrium models as an analytical perturbation problem. Her Ph.D. thesis is devoted to the study of the structure and dynamics of globular star clusters, by means of analytical models and numerical simulations. To fully understand the internal dynamics of this class of star clusters, a number of important physical ingredients should be added to the traditional paradigm that primarily relies on spherical non-rotating models of quasi-relaxed stellar systems. In fact, the great progress made in recent years in the acquisition of detailed information on the structure and kinematics of globular clusters calls for a renewed effort in theoretical modelling. Driven by these motivations, during her doctoral studies she constructed several families of self-consistent nonspherical models in which the effects of external tides, internal rotation, and anisotropy in the velocity space are fully taken into account. As a Fulbright Visiting Student Researcher, she also spent an extensive fraction of her doctoral program at Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA, United States) under the supervision of Professors Enrico Vesperini and Stephen McMillan, primarily performing numerical simulations designed to investigate the dynamical stability and the long-term evolution of rotating dense stellar systems.

After the completion of her Ph.D. studies, she will take up The Gruber Foundation Fellowship at the Department of Astronomy at Indiana University (Bloomington, IN, United States), where the study of Galactic and Extragalactic star clusters is a long-standing and prominent research theme, both from the theoretical and observational point of view. The research project supported by the Gruber Foundation will be devoted to an extension of her studies of the dynamics of globular clusters, with the aim of providing a more realistic dynamical paradigm for this class of stellar systems. Within the new framework of analytical models developed in her Ph.D. thesis, supplemented by specifically designed numerical simulations, a number of fundamental questions will be addressed. Particular attention will be given to four open problems in the study of the formation and evolution of globular clusters, namely (a) the effects of angular momentum in the early formation stages; (b) the dynamical characterization of multiple stellar populations; (c) the role of internal rotation in the kinematics of the central regions; (d) the interplay between internal rotation and external tidal field.

Anna Lisa Varri


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