The New Physics of Compact Stars (CompStar)


Over the last decade, compact stars have been shown to be excellent tools to test fundamental properties of gravity and matter under extreme conditions. The new generation of space X-ray and gamma-ray observatories are enabling new observations and breakthrough discoveries (kHz quasi- periodic oscillations, bursting millisecond pulsars, half-day long X-ray superbursts). The thermal emission from isolated neutron stars has provided important information on their radii and cooling history. At the same time, improvements in radio telescopes and interferometric techniques have increased the number of known binary pulsars, allowing for extremely precise neutron star mass measurements and tests of general relativity (GR). Finally, a large multinational effort has taken place in the last decade to build detectors, offering the exciting prospect of the detection of gravitational waves.
We are thus experiencing the blooming of astronuclear physics, an exciting research area in which the physics of compact stars plays a fundamental role. While a part of this physics relies on theories that are well tested in terrestrial laboratories, a good part of it is basically unknown in the regimes found in compact stars. Unveiling this picture is a task made challenging by the multidisciplinary character of the problem, which requires expertise from historically independent disciplines, such as nuclear and particle physics, astrophysics, gravitational  and computational physics. The present project aims at linking the best European scientists in these fields, to reach a better understanding of the physics of compact stars. To make this possible it will be necessary to create a European environment in which experts from different fields can collaborate, present their results and discuss the implications across disciplines. By doing this, they will train a new generation of young researchers who will have skills in multiple areas and thus the ability to unravel the complex physics behind compact stars.

Programme Proposal

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5 years : February 2008 - February 2013