The centres of galaxies are superb laboratories for studying the interplay between stellar dynamics, hydrodynamics, star formation, stellar feedback, and supermassive black holes. New technological developments, such as high-resolution integral field spectrographs with adaptive optics, are enabling us to study these regions with an unprecedented level of detail and breadth of scope, and the amount of information gathered has grown dramatically in the past few years. This is bringing transformational advances in extragalactic astronomy, but the richness of the data and the complexity of the subject can be potentially confusing, while progress in the field require a solid understanding of fundamental physical concepts with respect to the structure, dynamics and stellar population content of these components.
This course of lectures and hands-on projects will provide young researchers with a thorough preparation for understanding the observed properties of galaxy centres and the theory behind them.
We will introduce students to what current observations tell us about the central components of galaxies, how these relate to galaxy scaling relations such as those of supermassive black holes, and the state-of-the-art techniques used for morphological analysis and 3D spectroscopy as applied to the central regions of galaxies. We will then interpret the observed phenomena in terms of dynamical theories of galaxy formation and evolution. We will start by basing students’ intuitions on analytical approaches that often provide useful insights. We will then proceed to orbital analyses and KAM theory, a key conceptual tool for barred galaxies. This will enable us to explain much of the observed features and a substantial part of the behavior of N-body simulations. With this preparation in hand, we will be able to present and interpret results of N-body simulations, and to relate them back to the observed nature of galaxy centres.