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2022-06-07 Dr Mark Kennedy (University College Cork)

Invisible Monsters and Spider Webs: Compact objects in the era of wide field optical surveys

Abstract: Where are the missing Galactic population of black holes? How do we obtain precise and accurate masses for black holes and neutron stars in our galaxy? These are two of the most pressing questions in astrophysics, and ones which the enormous databases produced by telescopes such as GAIA, the Zwicky Transient Factory (ZTF), and the upcoming Vera Rubin Observatory can help us answer. During this talk, I will discuss where I believe an answer to the missing black hole population may be found. This involves combining data taken by GAIA and ZTF and applying machine learning techniques to find light curves which challenge our understanding of binary classification. I will also highlight the many challenges, pitfalls, and rabbit holes that can be encountered when dealing with these large data sets. I will also give a summary of how the masses of invisible companions can be estimated in these types of binaries, with a focus on some interesting recent results and advances in how the companions in these systems are being modelled.