Thursday, February 9, 2012
Physics Research Conference
Black Holes Get Loud. And Bright.
Janna Levin, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard College, Columbia University
Black hole pairs are promising contenders for a first direct detection by gravitational-wave observatories. In anticipation of a prolific observational future, we describe a multi-messenger portrait of black hole binaries that are both loud in gravitational waves and bright in electromagnetic waves. We describe a novel mechanism to generate electromagnetic luminosities powered by a black hole battery in an astrophysical circuit with a neutron-star magnet. Additionally in dense galactic nuclei, relativistic scattering leads to the formation of highly eccentric pairs that can produce loud gravitational bursts with potentially bright counterparts in electromagnetic bursts.