Black holes are among the most mysterious objects that the human mind has been capable of imagining. As pure mathematical constructions, they are tools for exploiting the fundamental laws of physics. As astronomical sources, they are part of our cosmic landscape, warping space-time, coupled to the large-scale properties and life cycle of their host galaxy, and perhaps even linked to galaxy formation.
This volume, which grew from a recent doctoral school sponsored by the Italian Society of Relativity and Gravitation, brings together contributions from leading authorities to provide a review of recent developments in the study of the astrophysical black holes that inhabit nearby galaxies and distant quasars. These lectures reveal the deep symbiotic relationship between black holes and their cosmic environment and show that black holes are key sources for exploring not only our local universe, but also our cosmic dawn. Topics range from the observational evidence for supermassive black holes and the joint evolution of black holes and galaxies to the cold dark matter paradigm of hierarchical galaxy formation and from the cosmic history of the diffuse intergalactic medium to the ecology of black holes in star clusters.
OBSERVATIONAL EVIDENCE FOR SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLES Introduction Some Useful Formalism General Considerations Resolved Stellar Dynamics Gas as a Tracer of the Gravitational Potential Tackling the Unresolvable: Reverberation Mapping Scaling Relations for SMBHs Black Hole Demographics The Future JOINT EVOLUTION OF BLACK HOLES AND GALAXIES: OBSERVATIONAL ISSUES Galaxy Activity: Generalities Local Evidence on the Interplay Between the Stellar and Gravitational Origin of AGN Activity The Cosmic History of Galaxy Activity Constraints on the Cosmic Energy Budget Current Observational Programs and Future Perspectives Current Issues on Local Active Galaxies Faint Active Galaxies at High Redshifts: Overview Radiative and Baryonic Remnants of Past Activity GALAXY FORMATION IN THE HIERARCHICAL UNIVERSE Formation and Evolution of Structure The Formation of Dark Matter Halos Spatial Clustering and Bias Dark Matter Halos: Internal Properties and Correlations Galaxy Formation Within the CDM Paradigm Concluding Thoughts FEEDBACK IN COSMIC STRUCTURES Introduction Basics Issues Arising Preheating by SNe Feedback from AGNs Enhanced Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Effects Discussion and Conclusions THE FORMATION OF PRIMORDIAL LUMINOUS OBJECTS Introduction Physical Cosmology Primordial Gas Properties Numerical Cosmological Hydrodynamics Protostar Formation and Accretion Discussion THE EVOLUTION OF BARYONS ALONG COSMIC HISTORY Cosmogonic Preliminaries The Dark Ages of the Universe The Emergence of Cosmic Structures The Epoch of Reionization Preheating and Galaxy Formation The Intergalactic Medium After Reionization Conclusions FEEDBACK PROCESSES AT COSMIC DAWN Shock Waves Photoionization Thermal Instability The Need for Feedback in Cosmology The Gentle Feedback Feedback in the Early Universe THE ECOLOGY OF BLACK HOLES IN STAR CLUSTERS Introduction Theory of Star Cluster Evolution Black Holes in Star Clusters Discussion and Further Speculations Concluding Remarks Index