PHAS Colloquia

Merging black hole binaries: accretion dynamics and outflows

by Manuela Campanelli (Rochester Institute of Technology)

Tuesday, 16 November 2021 from to (America/Chicago)
Speaker: Dr. Manuela Campanelli (Math, Astrophysical Sciences & Tech Program, Rochester Institute of Technology)

Title: Merging black hole binaries: accretion dynamics and outflows 

Abstract: Supermassive black hole mergers are one of the most dramatic phenomena in the Universe.  For a few hours, they can emit as much power in gravitational waves as all the stars in the Universe produce in light.  Moreover, they are an important element in determining the mass distribution of the entire population of supermassive black holes.  However, none has yet been caught in the act, in large part because they are rare, and no one knows what sort of light they should emit along with the gravitational waves.  In this talk, I will present new GRMHD simulations aimed at providing detailed astrophysical knowledge about the environments close to supermassive black hole binaries on their way to merger. I will show how gas flows in the immediate neighborhoods of these binaries, especially when both black holes are spinning, and present calculations of jet launching and light signals that observers should search for in order to find examples.

About the speaker: Dr. Manuela Campanelli is a distinguished professor in the School of Mathematical Sciences (SMS) and in the Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Program (AST) of the School of Physics and Astronomy (SoPA) at RIT. She is also the founding director of the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation (CCRG) and of the Astrophysics and Space Physics Institute for Research Excellence (ASPIRE). She is known for her renowned work on the astrophysics of black holes, neutron stars and gravitational waves. Her 2005's breakthrough work on the first successful numerical simulations of binary black hole mergers was recently highlighted by the APS as one of the landmarks of the century on the subject of general relativity, starting with a contribution from Einstein himself; in 2007, she became known for her discovery that after black holes merge to form a new, larger black hole, the newly formed black hole can recoil at thousands of kilometers a second; fast enough to eject a supermassive black hole from even the largest galaxies. More recently, she leads groundbreaking research projects that are providing the first calculations of matter effects close to merging binary supermassive black holes, including their characteristic electromagnetic emission. She also leads a large NASA’s funded ”Theory and Computational Astrophysics Network” to perform groundbreaking simulations of binary neutron stars (and potentially of black-hole/neutron stars) that aim at providing an understanding of recent and future multi-messenger astrophysics observations of these systems. She is a member of the Ligo Scientific Collaboration. 


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Meeting ID: 995 291 7599
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Organised by Alessandra Corsi/ AST