Massive Black Holes: Birth, Growth and Impact

During the past decade, massive black holes have become central objects of study in areas of astrophysics that were traditionally not connected. Along with traditional studies of black holes as high energy astrophysical sources, massive black holes have become pivotal to the understanding of galaxy formation and evolution. Similarly, massive black hole binaries have become the main targets of the future generation of gravitational wave experiments, motivating new research on the orbital decay and merging of black holes.  Finally, studies of our own Galactic Center have also undergone tremendous progress and are expected be able to probe general relativistic effects induced by the central supermassive black hole. With this conference, we will bring together experts from the diverse groups involved in the study of massive black holes, producing a novel summary of the status of knowledge and fostering a productive interaction between various research communities that normally operate separately.

Themes that we will focus on will include

(1) Formation mechanisms of massive black hole seeds, confronting weaknesses and strengths of different models and placing them in the context of cosmic structure formation.

(2) Co-evolution of galaxies and massive black holes, in particular the role of black hole feedback on galaxy formation.

(3) Evolution of massive black hole binaries, from the Newtonian to the relativistic regime, including predictions for gravitational wave experiments.

(4) Modeling of accretion discs, especially the latest generation of three-dimensional numerical simulations, addressing the state-of-the art in the field and discussing how to transfer the acquired knowledge to sub-grid models of black hole accretion during galaxy formation.

We expect the conference will generate the most up-to-date synthesis of our current knowledge on massive black holes.