This two-part course, running from May 12 – June 3, 2021, was given by two lecturers: The first part will be given Prof. Dr. Thomas Tauris, professor at Aarhus University, and the second part by Prof. Dr. Alberto Sesana, professor at the University of Milano Bicocca.

The first part of the course will review the formation and evolution of binary-star systems with compact objects (BHs: black holes, NSs: neutron stars, and WDs: white dwarfs). The course will provide an introduction to the following topics: binary star interactions, mass transfer, supernovae, X-ray binaries, common envelopes, radio pulsars, pulsar spin and B-field evolution, magnetars, recycling, millisecond pulsars, gravitational waves (GWs), population synthesis and modelling of GW sources, GW merger rates, masses and spins of NSs and BHs, LISA sources, and dual-line GW sources.

The second part of the course will focus on the astrophysics of supermassive black holes and supermassive black hole (MBH) binaries (MBHBs). After a brief historical introduction and a review of the observational evidence of MBH existence, the lectures will describe proposed formation channels and the physical mechanisms that grow their masses over cosmic history. The course will then focus on the formation of MBHBs following galaxy mergers and on their subsequent dynamical evolution. The final part of the course will discuss the merger rates of MBHBs over cosmic history and the relevance of these sources for LISA and PTA experiments.

Lecture recordings and notes

All lectures were recorded. The recordings and lecture notes can be found in the drop down “Course material” menu above.


Thomas Tauris’ lectures took place on:

  • Wednesday May 12th, 2021, 10am – 12pm: X-ray Binaries and Recycling Millisecond Pulsars
  • Friday May 14th, 2021, 2021, 10am – 12pm: Spin and B-field Evolution of NSs
  • Wednesday May 19th, 2021, 10am – 12pm: Formation of Binary NSs, including BH/NS and BH-BH systems
  • Friday May 21st, 2021, 10am – 12pm: Binary NSs and Gravitational Waves at Low and High Frequencies (LISA and LIGO/Virgo)

Alberto Sesana’s lectures on “Massive Black-Hole Astrophysics” took place on:

  • Wednesday May 26th, 2021, 10am – 12pm
  • Thursday May 27th, 2021, 10am – 11am
  • Friday May 28th, 2021, 10am – 11am 
  • Monday May 31st, 2021, 10am – 11am
  • Wednesday June 2nd, 2021, 10am – 12pm
  • Thursday June 3rd, 2021, 10am – 11am