This two-part course took place in person from May 2 – June 2, 2023, and was given by two lecturers: The first part was given by Prof. Dr. Alberto Sesana, professor at the University of Milano Bicocca, and the second part was given by Prof. Dr. Cole Miller professor at the University of Maryland.

The first part of the course tackled the astrophysics of massive black holes (MBHs) and massive black hole binaries (MBHBs). It described the general framework of MBH seed formation within the hierarchical clustering scenario for structure formation, described how these seeds grow their masses to become supermassive along the cosmic history. Alberto then described the process of MBH paring following galaxy mergers and the dynamical processes leading to the formation of MBHBs that will merge via gravitational wave (GW) emission. He described the relevance of these sources for low frequency GW detectors, in particular LISA and Pulsar Timing Arrays.

The second part of the course was about the properties of compact objects (white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes): what we know about them electromagnetically, and what we hope to learn from observations using gravitational waves.  These lectures provided an introduction to the formation of these objects, the properties of degenerate stars, the formation of binaries observable using GW detectors, and the prospects for learning about matter beyond nuclear density using GW.

Lectures and notes

All lectures took place in person in room 0.01 at the AEI Potsdam, but were also accessible via Zoom for participants from our partner institutions.

The lecture notes can be found in the drop down “Course material” menu above.


Alberto Sesana’s lectures took place on (including 15min breaks):

  • Tuesday May 2, 2023, 3pm – 5pm
  • Friday May 5, 2023, 10am – 12pm
  • Monday May 8, 2023, 10am – 12pm
  • Tuesday May 9, 2023, 3pm – 5pm

Cole Miller’s lectures took place on:

  • Monday May 22, 2023, 10am – 11am
  • Wednesday May 24, 2023, 10am – 11am
  • Thursday May 25, 2023, 10am – 11am 
  • Friday May 26 2023, 10am – 11am
  • Wednesday May 31 2023, 10am – 12pm
  • Thursday June 1, 2023, 10am – 11am
  • Friday June 2, 2023, 10am – 11am