The last decade has witnessed rapid progress in the astrophysical study of black holes. Observations have shown that many nearby galaxies host supermassive black holes at their centers, and have established an intimate link between the masses of the black holes and the properties of their host galaxies. Measurements in the high-energy X-ray regime have allowed us to study the conditions of matter in the immediate vicinity of black holes, and to probe down to scales very close to the actual event horizon of black holes. Breakthroughs in numerical relativity have made it possible, for the first time, to compute the merging of two supermassive black holes. Within the next ten years, ground-based gravitational wave detectors like LIGO and VIRGO will begin making regular observations of merging stellar-mass black holes out to redshifts of ~0.3, giving us our first-ever direct view of the black holes themselves. Future space-based observatories like IXO will measure X-rays from the first accreting massive black holes in the Universe, while LISA will detect gravitational waves from coalescing supermassive black hole binaries throughout the Universe. Gravitational wave and electromagnetic astronomy have previously been rather disjoint fields of research. A key goal of this seminar is to bring together researchers in these two fields, and to provide a forum for lively discussions, with an emphasis on the electromagnetic and gravitational wave signatures of strong gravity.
The seminar will focus on the following key topics:
Astrophysical observations and physics of black holes, and probes of strong gravity.
Formation and growth of supermassive black holes across cosmic times, co-evolution of galaxies and black holes.
Galaxy mergers, formation and coalescence of binary supermassive black holes.
Gravitational wave emission from compact objects.
Current and future ground- and space-based missions which are devoted to the study of gravitational waves and electromagnetic radiation from (the environment of) black holes.
Electromagnetic signatures of black hole binaries and recoiling black holes.