Black Holes in the Spotlight

Seven Pines Symposium XXI

May 17-21, 2017
The Outing Lodge at Pine Point, Stillwater, Minnesota

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Presented talks are now online.

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The topic of black holes, always of great interest, came under intense scrutiny with the first observation of gravitational waves (the event GW150914, announced in Feb 2016). These waves had been emitted by a pair of merging black holes, with masses of some 30 solar masses each, at a distance of over 1 billion light years.

Accordingly the 7 Pines meeting for 2017 was devoted to the topic of black holes. Topics covered included the observation of gravitational waves by LIGO, and the physics and observations of supermassive and stellar black holes in the universe were also reviewed - with a focus on the way in which supermassive black holes may have originated in the early universe. A topic that garnered much interest, and was the focus of 4 different talks, was the black hole information paradox and related issues - the debate on this confronts theorists from different areas including string theory and quantum gravity, and the relationship with string theory was an important topic of discussion. It was also the focus of a historical talk contrasting different views on quantum gravity. More technical issues, concerning how one treats boundary observables in quantum field theory also came into play in another talk.

Another theme concerned analogue gravity experiments, and what they might have to say on Hawking radiation - although they have not so much to say about the information paradox, these experiments raised much discussion on how black hole analogues may or may not illuminate basic questions about quantum gravitation or about quantum field theory in curved spacetime.