This series consists of talks in areas where gravity is the main driver behind interesting or peculiar phenomena, from astrophysics to gravity in higher dimensions.
Violation of unitarity in black hole evaporation has been puzzling physicist since the seminal work of Hawking in the seventies. Although there are hopes for a resolution of the problem in a full theory of quantum gravity, it has eluded us so far. Even less ambitious efforts considering only quantum corrections beyond the external field approximation have proven hard to attack in 4 dimensions. All these obstacles directed researchers to investigate the black hole evaporation problem in simpler 2-dimensional models.
The development of virial mass estimates for the central black hole using one quasar spectrum has allowed a dramatic improvement in our understanding of supermassive black hole evolution. I will describe several new puzzles arising from the combination of virial masses with luminosity and redshift measurements, many of which are inconsistent with our current understanding of quasar evolution. I will also describe a new class of quasars that does not appear to fit easily into current models for quasar accretion.
In inflationary theories, single field models are typically considered subject to slow-roll conditions. In this talk I will present current observational constraints on deviations from slow-roll, e.g. bounds coming from strong coupling considerations, scale-dependent non-Gaussianities and the tensor-to-scalar ratio. These constraints still allow significant violations of slow-roll conditions. Focusing on non-Gaussian signals, I will discuss a variety of intriguing observable signatures that can be found for fast-rolling single fields.
Bizon and Rostworowski have recently suggested that anti-de Sitter spacetime might be nonlinearly unstable to transfering energy to smaller and smaller scales and eventually forming a small black hole. We consider pure gravity with a negative cosmological constant and find strong support for this idea. While one can start with a single linearized mode and add higher order corrections to construct a nonlinear geon, this is not possible starting with a linear combination of two or more modes. One is forced to add higher frequency modes with growing amplitude.
Constant mean curvature (uniform K) hypersurfaces extend to future null infinity in asymptotically flat spacetimes. With conformal compactification, the entire hypersurface can be covered by a finite spatial grid, eliminating any need an "outgoing wave" boundary condition or for extrapolation to find gravitational wave amplitudes. I will discuss the asymptotic behavior near future null infinity, how this can be simplified by suitable gauge conditions, and how this determines the physical Bondi energy and momentum of the system.
Most predictions for binary compact object formation are normalized to the present-day Milky Way population. In this talk, I suggest the merger rate of black hole binaries could be exceptionally sensitive to the ill-constrained fraction of low-metallicity star formation that ever occurred on our past light cone.
Supernovae observations strongly support the presence of a cosmological constant, but its value, which we will call apparent, is normally determined assuming that the Universe can be accurately described by a homogeneous model. Even in the presence of a cosmological constant we cannot exclude nevertheless the presence of a small local inhomogeneity which could affect the apparent value of the cosmological constant.
There is now a consensus that gamma-ray bursts involve
extraordinary power outputs, and highly relativistic dynamics.
The trigger is probably a binary merger or collapse involving
compact objects. The most plausible progenitors, ranging from
NS-NS mergers to various hypernova-like scenarios, eventually
lead to the formation of a black hole with a debris torus around it.
The various modes of energy extraction from such systems are discussed.
Today there is robust observational evidence of dark and compact objects in X-ray binary systems with a mass of 5-20 $M_\odot$ and in galactic nuclei with a mass of $10^5 - 10^9$ $M_\odot$. The conjecture is that all these objects are the Kerr black holes predicted by General Relativity, as they cannot be explained otherwise without introducing new physics. However, there are no directs observational evidences.