Mini Workshop on Compact Objects and Gravitational Waves held at KIAA

A one-day workshop on the topic of compact objects and gravitational waves was recently held on 2023 April 19 at the newly renovated Auditorium of the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (KIAA) at Peking University. Over 30 undergraduates, PhDs, postdocs and faculty members participated in the event, with a special guest, Prof. Ian Jones, visiting from the University of Southampton, UK. In fact, it was not the first time Prof. Ian Jones had visited KIAA. His first time was in May 2019 where he visited as a KIAA Visiting Scholar.

[Fig. 1 - Group photo.]

The day began with a warm introduction by Prof. Lijing Shao who welcomed everyone to the workshop. The remainder of the day was broken down into 4 sessions:

1st morning session: Neutron star observations (Chair: Dr. Garvin Yim)

2nd morning session: Neutron star theory (Chair: Prof. Helei Liu)

1st afternoon session: Gravitational waves (Chair: Dr. Torben Frost)

2nd afternoon session: Black holes (Chair: Prof. Ian Jones)

In total, 15 talks were given by various researchers at different stages in their career, with 10 these given by undergraduates and PhDs. The talks were captivating and engaging, with several questions asked after each talk. It was encouraging to see so many questions being asked, especially by junior scientists.

There were a variety of topical talks including one from Dr. Weiyang Wang who spoke on fast radio bursts (FRBs) and how they could be induced by starquakes. Similarly, Dr. Garvin Yim spoke about how gravitational waves could be generated from magnetar glitches and anti-glitches. In both talks, the speakers addressed the recent observation of a magnetar anti-glitch followed by an FRB and the onset of a pulsed radio signal, the last of which was observed by the FAST telescope.

In the neutron star theory session, several talks were dedicated to the discussion of “strangeons”, the idea that strange quark matter within the core of a neutron star is confined rather than deconfined which is the usual assumption. Mr. Haoyang Qi addressed how we could potentially observe “strangeon nuggets” by using a novel acoustic (sound) method. Noteworthily, Mr. Shichuan Chen could not give his talk so his collaborator, Mr. Yong Gao, stepped up and delivered Shichuan’s talk flawlessly on the spot. Not long after, Yong then gave his own talk on the precession of magnetars, which is a topic close to Prof. Ian Jones’ heart.

After a morning of intriguing and stimulating talks, we took a break for lunch. To Prof. Ian Jones’ surprise, he was greeted with a birthday cake to celebrate his 50th birthday. He had in fact spent most of his 50th birthday travelling from the UK to Beijing, so this was the least KIAA could do to celebrate with him.

[Fig. 2 – Prof. Ian Jones with his 50th birthday cake.]

In the afternoon, there was a comprehensive selection of talks on binary black holes orbiting supermassive black holes, coming solely from Prof. Xian Chen’s group. These speakers, all of whom were PhD students, were Mr. Peng Peng, Ms. Xiaoyue Zhang, Mr. Zhongfu Zhang and Mr. Xinmiao Zhao. It was refreshing to see the cohesion and synergy between these researchers in tackling a common goal.

Finally, to close off the workshop, Prof. Renxin Xu gave a motivational speech summarising how varied and wonderful the talks were. He went on further to ask the audience why we have not had a workshop like this in the last few years, to which, members of the audience shouted “because of COVID”. Humorously, Prof. Renxin Xu said “no” and said it was because Prof. Ian Jones had not been around!

Below are pictures of some of the speakers:

[Fig. 3 – Mr. Jie Lin]

[Fig. 4 – Mr. Hongbo Li]

[Fig. 5 – Mr. Yong Gao]

[Fig. 6 – Dr. Garvin Yim]

[Fig. 7 – Dr. Zhenwei Lyu]