Scientific Rationale

The centers of massive galaxies are special in many ways, not the least because all of them are believed to host supermassive black holes. Since the discovery of key relations linking the mass of the central dark object with the large scale properties of the dynamically hot galactic component, it has become clear that the growth of the central black hole is intimately connected to the evolution of its host galaxy. However, for lower mass galaxies, the situation is much less clear. These galaxies, spanning a large range of Hubble types, often host nuclear star clusters of a few 106 - 107 solar masses: the presence of black holes and their relation to these nuclear clusters remains largely unknown.

Recent studies have shown that nuclear cluster masses are coupled to the mass of their host galaxy, following a relation similar as for supermassive black holes, suggesting both types of central massive objects (CMOs) are closely related. Although nuclear clusters are more than the low-mass analogs of supermassive black holes, all CMOs very probably share some basic ingredients in their formation processes. This workshop aims at bringing together a broad international audience in the combined field of galaxy nuclei, super-massive black holes, nuclear star clusters, to confront state-of-the art observations with cutting-edge (realistic) models.

The key scientific questions for this workshop are:

  • What is the evolutionary/causal connection between nuclear clusters and black holes?
  • Are intermediate mass black holes formed in nuclear clusters/globular clusters?
  • Where do we stand observationally for black holes, nuclear clusters and intermediate mass black holes?
  • What can the Galactic Centre tell us about the nuclear cluster-black hole connection?
  • How does this relate to the host galaxies?
  • What do theoretical models tell us about star formation in the extreme gravitational potential near the black hole and under the extreme stellar densities in galactic centers?
  • What do theoretical models tell us about dynamics, evolution and migration of nuclear star clusters in galaxy centres?
  • Do we understand the feeding of the central pc? How are nuclear clusters replenished with fresh gas?