Scientific Program

Stefanie Komossa (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics)

Title: Astrophysics of supermassive binary black holes

Abstract: The presence of supermassive binary black holes and recoiling black holes has a wealth of astrophysical implications which are currently being explored. Studying their properties and determining their frequency is of great interest for many branches of astrophysics, including models of structure formation in the early universe, modes of black hole growth during galaxy mergers, phenomenology and evolution of active galaxies and feedback processes, and black hole - galaxy scaling relations. Merging black holes are cosmic laboratories which enable us to study the effects of strong gravity under extreme conditions. The predicted electromagnetic signatures of coalescing binary black holes point us to the sites of these events, they enable us to study their environment and merger state in detail, and they provide us with tight constraints on merger histories. I will give an overview of the astrophysics of supermassive binary black holes, review the multi-wavelength observations which indicate their presence, and briefly introduce future schemes to search for electromagnetic counterparts to merging and recoiling black holes.