The detection of gravitational waves by the Ligo-Virgo-Kagra collaboration, and the remarkable images produced by the EHT collaboration have opened new avenues into the study of highly compact objects in our universe. While observations suggest these objects are black holes, they don't rule out other possibilities. Black holes, however, create paradoxes that challenge well-established physical principles, leading to growing interest in horizonless ultra-compact objects — often called "black hole mimickers."
To understand mimickers, we need concrete, well-motivated models that are both feasible and astrophysically relevant — something that's currently scarce. In this talk, I will present a class of mimickers that we’ve been exploring: “AdS black shells,” which may provide a promising candidate model for further study.

In this talk I will do three things. First, I will outline the conditions under which the interaction rate of inelastic processes with a system consisting of N targets scales as N^2. Second, I will present computations of interaction rates for several weakly interacting particles, including the Cosmic Neutrino Background and QCD axion dark matter, and will explain the underlying physics. Third, I will introduce new quantum observables that do not rely on net energy transfer, but can still extract these N^2 effects. This talk will not address a concrete experimental proposal, but the effects presented may point to a new class of table-top and ultra-low threshold particle detectors.

In this seminar, I will discuss recent progress towards developing robust methods to constrain PNG in the non-linear regime based on the LSS consistency relations — non-perturbative statements about the structure of LSS correlation functions derived from symmetries of the LSS equations of motion. Specifically, I will present non-perturbative models for the squeezed matter bispectrum and collapsed matter trispectrum in the presence of local PNG, as well as in the presence of a more general “Cosmological Collider” signal sourced by inflationary massive particle exchange. Using N-body simulations with modified initial conditions, I will demonstrate that these models yield unbiased constraints on the amplitude of PNG deep into the non-linear regime (k~2 h/Mpc at z=0). Finally, I will discuss how these non-perturbative methods can provide insight into the scale-dependent bias signature associated with the Cosmological Collider scenario.

In this talk, we first present a detailed analysis of the classical geometry of generic null hypersurfaces. We then reformulate the Einstein equations as conservation laws for the intrinsic geometric data on these hypersurfaces. Following this, we derive the symplectic structure and the corresponding Poisson bracket. Upon quantizing this phase space, we propose that the projected Einstein tensor obeys the operator product expansion of the stress tensor in a conformal field theory along null time. This hypothesis is supported by explicit computations in simplified scenarios, such as the absence of radiation and within the framework of perturbative gravity.
Notably, we discover a non-vanishing central charge, which counts the
local geometric degrees of freedom and diverges in the classical limit. We suggest that this central charge is a fundamental principle underlying the emergence of time in quantum gravity. If time permits, we will conclude by introducing a mesoscopic model of quantum gravity on null hypersurfaces, based on the concept of the "embadon," an operator that creates localized bits of area on cuts.

As endpoints of massive stellar evolution, showcases for the densest matter in the universe, and sites for heavy element nucleosynthesis, neutron star mergers are superb laboratories for astrophysics, strong gravity and nuclear physics. Gravitational-wave observations of these mergers are beginning to reveal neutron stars’ internal structure, provide insight into the astrophysical processes that form them, and expose their role in the chemical evolution of the Galaxy. I will survey some of my recent work in these areas and describe how our theoretical understanding of neutron stars is being shaped by gravitational-wave discoveries.

In quantum field theory (QFT) the spin-statistics theorem says that in a unitary QFT, a particle has half-integer spin if and only if it is a fermion. I show how to phrase this statement in the language of functorial field theories. More precisely, I explain when a functorial field theory "has fermions" and "has spinors" and when they are "related". I will then restrict to topological field theories (TFTs) and define unitary TFTs. There are counterexamples of the spin-statistics theorem for non-unitary TFTs. I will prove that every unitary TFT satisfies the spin-statistics theorem.

I will discuss recent progress on the initial conditions for inflation and how this can potentially enhance gravitational wave non-Gaussianity (NG). In particular, there is a significant additional NG contribution in the flattened configuration, offering a straightforward way to boost parity-violating NG from Chern-Simons gravity, which typically suffers from graviton ghost-production. Furthermore, I will explore how this shape – at the level of the trispectrum – can enable direct measurement of NG in the stochastic gravitational wave background (SGWB) using pulsar timing arrays (PTA). This is particularly intriguing as it allows us to investigate NG at scales complementary to those observed in the CMB, which could help us distinguish between various early universe models and physical mechanisms.

We will explore the connection between Celestial and Euclidean Anti-de Sitter (EAdS) holography in the massive scalar case. Specifically, exploiting the so-called hyperbolic foliation of Minkowski space-time, we will show that each contribution to massive Celestial correlators can be reformulated as a linear combination of contributions to corresponding massive Witten correlators in EAdS. This result will be demonstrated explicitly both for contact diagrams and for the four-point particle exchange diagram, and it extends to all orders in perturbation theory by leveraging the bootstrapping properties of the Celestial CFT (CCFT). Within this framework, the Kantorovic-Lebedev transform plays a central role, which will be introduced at the end of the talk. This transform will allow us to make broader considerations regarding non-perturbative properties of a CCFT.

BPS line defects in 4d N=2 supersymmetric QFT are described by a monoidal category with a list of desired properties. For example, the Grothendieck group of this category is supposed to coincide with quantization of functions on Coulomb branch of the theory compactified on a circle. Based on an observation, that at a given vacuum the spectrum of PBS particles can be quipped with an algebra structure – cohomological Hall algebra of the corresponding BPS quiver – we propose a category generated by certain bimodules over this algebra that possesses expected properties of the category of lines. Based on a joint work with Davide Gaiotto and Wei Li.

The standard perspective on subsystems in quantum theory is a bottom-up, compositional one: one starts with individual "small" systems, viewed as primary, and composes them together to form larger systems. The top-down, decompositional perspective goes the other way, starting with a "large" system and asking what it means to partition it into smaller parts. In this talk, I will 1/ argue that the adoption of the top-down perspective is the key to progress in several current areas of foundational research; and 2/ present an integrated mathematical framework for partitions into three or more subsystems, using sub-C* algebras. Concerning the first item, I will explain how the top-down perspective becomes crucial whenever the way in which a quantum system is partitioned into smaller subsystems is not unique, but might depend on the physical situation at hand. I will display how that precise feature lies at the heart of a flurry of current hot foundational topics, such as quantum causal models, Wigner's friend scenarios, superselection rules, quantum reference frames, and debates over the implementability of the quantum switch. Concerning the second item, I will argue that partitions in (finite-dimensional) quantum theory can be naturally pinned down using sub-C* algebras. Building on simple illustrative examples, I will discuss the often-overlooked existence of non-factor C*-algebras, and how it leads to numerous subtleties -- in particular a generic failure of local tomography. I will introduce a sound framework for quantum partitions that overcomes these challenges; it is the first top-down framework that allows to consider three or more subsystems. Finally, as a display of this framework's technical power, I will briefly present how its application to quantum causal modelling unlocked the proof that all 1D quantum cellular automata admit causal decompositions.

(This is joint work with Octave Mestoudjian and Pablo Arrighi. This talk is complementary to my Causalworlds 2024 presentation, which will focus on the issue of causal decompositions.)

In this talk, I will present a published and an ongoing work in the direction of emergent gravity. The first is what I dubbed as the generalized Unruh effect, a mapping from arbitrary states in the Fock space of positive Minkowski (Kruskal) modes to Rindler (Schwarzschild) modes obtained by Bogoliubov transformation. The special case of vacuum state -- thermal bath mapping has been well known in the textbooks, the original Unruh effect. I will discuss the interesting physical implications of the generalized Unruh effect on the black hole information paradox. In the second part, I will give a novel conjecture of the dark energy when considering the spacetime as a 4d volume-conserved fluid. Einstein's equation with an always-positive metric term (Lambda, but not necessarily constant) can be interpreted as the differential version of this assumed conservation of 4d volume at linear order. The rich phenomenology of this theory will be discussed, including its solution to the anthropic problem of our currently dark-energy-dominated universe, and high-redshift over-evolved astrophysical objects that have been recently popping up in the JWST survey.

In this talk, I will provide an overview of neutron star (NS) mergers, highlighting the insights gained through numerical relativity simulations. I will mainly focus on the role of the cocoon shock breakout emission as a key early electromagnetic counterpart of NS mergers, with special relevance to events like GW170817. I will explore how the properties of the merger ejecta and the nature of the central engine influence the resulting emission. Additionally, I will present recent advancements in the development of our new general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics (GR-MHD) code GR-Athena++, and share ongoing research efforts on the evolution of magnetic fields in the post-merger remnant.