Survival of Dense Star Clusters in the Milky Way System


Globular clusters (GCs) provide a fossil record of our Galaxy’s assembly history and offer a unique way to uncover the past of the Milky Way (MW).

Both in-situ and accreted GCs coevolve with the surrounding environment and lose stars in the presence of the MW’s tidal field. Simultaneously, dynamical friction drags the densest and most massive GCs towards the Galactic center. While the former external effects might ultimately destroy GCs, the latter mechanism suggests they are important contributors to the formation of the central nuclear star cluster (NSC). In addition, internal effects such as mass segregation, stellar remnants, binaries or intermediate mass black holes can remove stars from GCs in a more subtle way, ultimately altering their dynamical structure and providing escapee stars that contribute to the MW’s halo, disk or bulge.

Given the recent advancements in Galactic surveys and modelling, now is an opportune time to better understand the interplay between these processes in the MW and unite both observers and theorists to focus on the engines that contribute to the survival and destruction of dense star clusters – i.e. GCs and NSCs – in our Galaxy. In this conference, we will address the joint evolution of the MW and its dense star clusters, with the goal of disentangling and constraining processes that decide the fate of a cluster and the stars it loses to their ever-changing host galaxy.


Adrian Price-Whelan (Princeton University)
Ana Bonaca (CfA, Harvard)
Annalisa Calamida (STScI, Baltimore)
Eugene Vasiliev (IoA, Cambridge)
Jeremy Webb (University of Toronto)
Laura Watkins (STScI, Baltimore)
Paola Di Matteo (Paris Observatory)
Rodrigo Ibata (Strasbourg Observatory)
Sarah Martell (UNSW, Sydney)
Tuan Do (UCLA, Los Angeles)

Scientific Organizing Committee

Alison Sills (McMaster University, Hamilton)
Alessandra Mastrobuono-Battisti (MPIA, co-chair)
Andreas Koch (ZAH-ARI, Heidelberg)
Anna Lisa Varri (University of Edinburgh)
Anna Sippel (MPIA, co-chair)
Antonio Sollima (INAF-OAS Bologna)
Florent Renaud (Lund Observatory)
Glenn van de Ven (ESO Garching)
Nadine Neumayer (MPIA, Heidelberg)
Sergey Koposov (CMU, Pittsburgh)

Local Organizing Committee

Alina Boecker (MPIA)
Carola Jordan (MPIA)
Chiara Battistini (ZAH-LSW, Heidelberg)
Francisco Aros (ESO/MPIA)
Mayte Alfaro (MPIA)
Matteo Mazzarini (ZAH-ARI, Heidelberg)
Nikolay Kacharov (MPIA)
Prashin Jethwa (ESO, Garching)
Ryan Leaman (MPIA)


Monday 19th

GC systems, satellites and streams in the MW system

Tuesday 20th

Internal GC effects altering evolution

Wednesday 21st

The Galactic disk/bulge and its GCs

Thursday 22nd

The contribution of GCs to the build up of the MW halo

Friday 23rd

The Galactic center and its NSC


Abstract submission deadline: 12th September

Travel funding request deadline: 5th September

Notification of talks: 21st September

Early-bird registration and payment (300 EUR) deadline: 28th September

Registration and payment (350 EUR) deadline: 26th October

Conference dates: 19th-23rd November


Registration and abstract submission is now open: please complete this form.

The auditorium seats a maximum of 80 people and preference will be given in order of registration.

Please note that registration is a two-step process: you are not required to pay when submitting your abstract, but you can do this at a later point (see payment section below).

Talks will be approximately 20 minutes plus time for questions. We will give the opportunity for short highlight talks instead of posters (maximum 3 slides and 5 minutes per person).


Payment can made via credit card on this webpage.

The registration fee is EUR 300 for early bird (payment before 28 September 2018) or EUR 350 (for payment by 26 October 2018). This includes daily transportation between downtown Heidelberg and the conference venue, coffee breaks, lunches, conference dinner and welcome reception.

A limited amount of travel funding will be available for junior scientists. Please note that applications for funding are accepted via the registration page until 5th September.


Visa & Flight Information

Please make sure to check that your passport is up-to-date before finalizing your travel arrangements!

Depending on where you live, you may or may not need to apply for a visa to enter Germany.
For information by country, please see this overview of visa requirements.

We recommend that you fly into Frankfurt Airport (FRA), as this is the nearest international airport to Heidelberg. The following directions to Heidelberg assume that you are starting from Frankfurt; if you choose to use a different airport and would like assistance organizing travel to the conference please contact the LOC.

Getting to Heidelberg

We recommend that you figure out transportation to Heidelberg in advance! There are several options from Frankfurt Airport:

Take the train

Deutsche Bahn (DB) will take you directly from Frankfurt Airport (station: Frankfurt(M) Flugh.) to various train stations around Heidelberg (likely either Hauptbanhof or Altstadt, depending on where your hotel is). Not all trains travel at the same speed, but you can expect travel times somewhere in the range of 60-90 minutes.

The trip will be about 25 € each way, and you can download the DB Navigator app to check time tables and buy tickets in advance. Note that these can be bought fairly last-minute, though, so we recommend waiting until you know whether or not your flight will be on time before purchasing.

Take the bus

For a cheaper but slightly less efficient alternative, you can take Flixbus from the airport to Heidelberg. Prices typically range from 5-15 € each way, but depending on the time of day the trip could take up to 3 hours due to traffic. To investigate time tables and book tickets, you can check out the Flixbus website or app.

Book a shuttle

The two best shuttle options are Transfer & Limousine Service (TLS) (40 € each way) and Lufthansa Express Shuttle (25 € each way).

Group travel

There is no official Frankfurt-Heidelberg group shuttle for the conference; however, if you are interested in coordinating trains, buses, shuttles or etc with anyone we encourage you to fill out your name and travel plans in this google sheet and plan amongst yourselves!

Driving directions

Finally, if you decide to rent a car and drive, you can follow these directions.

Conference Venue

The conference takes place in the main auditorium at the Haus der Astronomie (House of Astronomy) on the hill Königstuhl above Heidelberg. It is the white spiral galaxy building right next to MPIA with address Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg. The building is barrier free and fully wheelchair accessible, and 2 seminar rooms and a room for children are also booked. We provide bus transportation from downtown Heidelberg to the venue (approx. 20 minutes), which is included in the registration fee.

Exploring Heidelberg

The easiest way to explore Heidelberg is on foot! We suggest downloading an offline map of the area before you arrive, although there are a few spots around the city (e.g. Universitätsplatz or Bismarckplatz) where you can find free wifi.

Public transportation in Heidelberg is provided by the Rhein-Neckar-Verkehr (RNV) in the form of buses and trams; these can take you more or less anywhere you want to go within the city and are on time more often than not. The timetables can be found online; you can also download various apps to help you plan, e.g. the official RNV app (in german) or the VRN Ticket app (in english); or just use google maps.


Heidelberg has plenty of hotel and airbnb options. Block bookings of single rooms have been made at the following hotels:


Blocked rooms

Price per night

GuestHouse Heidelberg 10 79 €
Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Heidelberg 6 84 €
Hotel Goldene Rose 10 95 €
Hotel Monpti 3 88 €
BoardingHouse Heidelberg 30 89/99 €

Use the booking code MPIA when e-mailing the hotels.

Note: breakfast is included in the quoted prices except for GuestHouse Heidelberg, which instead provides studios with kitchenettes along with sandwiches and coffee in the lobby.


Email the chairs or the LOC.


Download the poster.

Code of Conduct

Read the code of conduct.

Survival of Dense Star Clusters in the Milky Way System is partially sponsored by the Sonderforschungsbereich 881: The Milky Way System