2016 marks the 100-year anniversary of Karl Schwarzschild’ s solution of Einstein’s field equations predicting the existence of black holes. Considered, at the time, to be an esoteric mathematical discovery, black holes today are widely accepted, and experimentally verified, astrophysical phenomena at all cosmic epochs.
A key unsolved issue in modern astrophysics is how black holes accrete matter and subsequently launch focused jets of material to speeds close to that of light, releasing copious energy in the process. This occurs over many orders of magnitude in mass, size and timescale in a wide range of astrophysical objects but the mechanisms converting gravitational potential energy into radiated energy remain poorly understood. In turn, these systems provide unique laboratories for the study of physics in extreme conditions such as strong gravity, large magnetic fields, ultra-relativistic particle acceleration and, as such, may also provide valuable probes of space-time and tests of fundamental physics.
The goal of this symposium is to bring together observational and theoretical experts in the astrophysics of black-hole driven systems to discuss the current state-of-the-art in accretion, jet formation and acceleration, emission mechanisms, (i.e. source physics) with theoretical physicists who aim to use astrophysical objects to test current theories of gravity and elementary particle physics in and beyond the standard model.
In addition to marking the 100-year anniversary of Karl Schwarzschild’ s solution of Einstein’s field equations predicting the existence of black holes, this symposium is timely both scientifically and in terms of upcoming technology whose advances across the electromagnetic spectrum and beyond to multi-messenger signature such as gravitational waves and neutrinos are coming of age. The new generation of gravitational wave detectors is operational, improved sensitivity in neutrino detectors is available, the multi-wavelength community has an impressive suite of ground- and space-based facilities covering a wide range of energy bands and timescales, and the theoretical astrophysics communities are providing new testable predictions from advances in hydrodynamic, magnetohydrodynamic and plasma cell-based simulations.
Looking to future major facilities coming on line in the 2020s, such as the Cherenkov Telescope Array, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Square Kilometre Array, this symposium will provide a stimulating environment for a new generation of scientists to connect with, learn from and present their work to a unique and diverse combination of world-leading astrophysicists and physicists with a common interest in black holes and their applications.