Berlin 2005 – wissenschaftliches Programm

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EP: Extraterrestrische Physik

EP 12: Astrophysik

EP 12.1: Hauptvortrag

Dienstag, 8. März 2005, 14:00–14:30, TU BH349

Massive black holes in the nearby and distant universe — •Stefanie Komossa — Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstr., 85748 Garching

Black holes are an unavoidable consequence of stellar evolution. With their extreme gravitational fields they are ideal ‘laboratories’ to search for effects of, and test predictions of, strong-field gravity. This review concentrates on ‘supermassive’ black holes (SMBHs); black holes with masses reaching up to ten billion times the mass of our sun. Such black holes are believed to be the prime movers of quasars, the most luminous long-lived objects in the universe. There is also growing evidence that SMBHs reside at the centers of most ‘normal’ galaxies, and that they play a major role in the formation and evolution of galaxies. In the high-energy regime, such black holes may reveal their presence by occasional disruptions of whole stars, causing giant flares of electromagnetic radiation. In some cases, supermassive black holes come in pairs and the final merging of the two is expected to produce a burst of gravitational wave radiation. This talk provides a review of recent exciting new results in black hole research. It concludes with a short glimpse into the next decade, when planned space-based missions are expected to enable accurate high-energy spectroscopy of matter in the immediate vicinity of the BH and the detection of gravitational waves from merging BHs which will open up a completely new window in the study of SMBHs and their cosmic evolution.

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