Abstract:
I discuss the range of validity of Detweiler's formula for the resonant frequencies of rapidly rotating Kerr black holes. While his formula is correct for extremal black holes, it has also been commonly accepted that it describes very well the resonant frequencies of near extremal black holes, and that therefore there is a large number of modes clustering on the real axis as the black hole becomes extremal. I will show that this last statement is not only incorrect, but that it also does not follow from Detweiler's formula, provided it is handled with due care. It turns out that only the first n << -log{(r_+-r_-)/r_+} modes are well described by that formula, which translates, for any astrophysical black hole, into one or two modes only. All existing numerical data gives further support to this claim. I also discuss some implications of this result for recent investigations on the late-time dynamics of rapidly rotating black holes.

Abstract:
Black holes play a fundamental role in modern physics. They have characteristic oscillation modes, called quasinormal modes. Past studies have shown that these modes are important to our understanding of the dynamics of astrophysical black holes. Recent studies indicate that they are important as a link between gravitation and quantum mechanics. Thus, the investigation of these modes is a timeliness topic. Quasinormal modes dominate almost every process involving black holes, in particular gravitational wave emission during, for example, the collision between two black holes. It may be possible to create black holes at future accelerators, according to recent theories advocating the existence of extra dimensions in our universe. It is therefore important to study in depth the gravitational radiation emitted in high energy collision between two black holes in several dimensions, and also to make a theoretical study of gravitational waves in higher dimensions. In this thesis we shall make a thorough study of the quasinormal modes of black holes in several kinds of background spacetimes. We shall investigate the gravitational radiation given away when highly energetic particles collide with black holes, and also when two black holes collide with each other. Finally, we shall study the properties of gravitational waves in higher dimensions, for instance, we generalize Einstein's quadrupole formula.

Abstract:
Black holes are the elementary particles of gravity, the final state of sufficiently massive stars and of energetic collisions. With a forty-year long history, black hole physics is a fully-blossomed field which promises to embrace several branches of theoretical physics. Here I review the main developments in highly dynamical black holes with an emphasis on high energy black hole collisions and probes of particle physics via superradiance. This write-up, rather than being a collection of well known results, is intended to highlight open issues and the most intriguing results.

Abstract:
We discuss some general aspects of acoustic black holes. We begin by describing the associated formalism with which acoustic black holes are established, then we show how to model arbitrary geometries by using a de Laval nozzle. It is argued that even though the Hawking temperature of these black holes is too low to be detected, acoustic black holes have interesting classical properties, some of which are outlined here, that should be explored.

Abstract:
It is generally accepted that Einstein's theory will get some as yet unknown corrections, possibly large in the strong field regime. An ideal place to look for these modifications is around the vicinities of compact objects such as black holes. Our case study here are Dilatonic Black Holes, which arise in the framework of Gauss-Bonnet couplings and one-loop corrected four-dimensional effective theory of heterotic superstrings at low energies. These are interesting objects as a prototype for alternative, yet well-behaved gravity theories: they evade the "no-hair" theorem of General Relativity but were proved to be stable against radial perturbations. We investigate the viability of these black holes as astrophysical objects and try to provide some means to distinguish them from black holes in General Relativity. We start by extending previous works and establishing the stability of these black holes against axial perturbations. We then look for solutions of the field equations describing slowly rotating black holes and study geodesic motion around this geometry. Depending on the values of mass, dilaton charge and angular momentum of the solution, one can have measurable differences in the ISCO location and orbital frequency, relatively to black holes in General Relativity. Such differences may be useful in future experiments, to discriminate between alternative theories of gravity.

Abstract:
Tidal effects have long ago locked the Moon in synchronous rotation with the Earth and progressively increase the Earth-Moon distance. This "tidal acceleration" hinges on dissipation. Binaries containing black holes may also be tidally accelerated, dissipation being caused by the event horizon - a flexible, viscous one-way membrane. In fact, this process is known for many years under a different guise: superradiance. In General Relativity, tidal acceleration is obscured by gravitational-wave emission. However, when coupling to light scalar degrees of freedom is allowed, an induced dipole moment produces a "polarization acceleration", which might be orders of magnitude stronger than tidal quadrupolar effects. Consequences for optical and gravitational-wave observations are intriguing and it is not impossible that imprints of such mechanism have already been observed.

Abstract:
It has recently been suggested that scalar, Dirac and Rarita-Schwinger perturbations are related to thermodynamic phase transitions of charged (Reissner-Nordstr\"om) black holes. In this note we show that this result is probably a numerical coincidence, and that the conjectured correspondence does not straightforwardly generalize to other metrics, such as Kerr or Schwarzschild (anti-)de Sitter. Our calculations do not rule out a relation between dynamical and thermodynamical properties of black holes, but they suggest that such a relation is non-trivial.

Abstract:
Scalar fields pervade theoretical physics and are a fundamental ingredient to solve the dark matter problem, to realize the Peccei-Quinn mechanism in QCD or the string-axiverse scenario. They are also a useful proxy for more complex matter interactions, such as accretion disks or matter in extreme conditions. Here, we study the collision between scalar "clouds" and rotating black holes. For the first time we are able to compare analytic estimates and strong field, nonlinear numerical calculations for this problem. As the black hole pierces through the cloud it accretes according to the Bondi-Hoyle prediction, but is deflected through a purely kinematic gravitational "anti-Magnus" effect, which we predict to be present also during the interaction of black holes with accretion disks. After the interaction is over, we find large recoil velocities in the transverse direction. The end-state of the process belongs to the vacuum Kerr family if the scalar is massless, but can be a hairy black hole when the fundamental scalar is massive.

Abstract:
We show that algebraically special modes lead to the instability of naked singularity spacetimes with negative mass. Four-dimensional negative-mass Schwarzschild and Schwarzschild-de Sitter spacetimes are unstable. Stability of the Schwarzschild-anti-de Sitter spacetime depends on boundary conditions. We briefly discuss the generalization of these results to charged and rotating singularities.

Abstract:
We study equilibrium shapes, stability and possible bifurcation diagrams of fluids in higher dimensions, held together by either surface tension or self-gravity. We consider the equilibrium shape and stability problem of self-gravitating spheroids, establishing the formalism to generalize the MacLaurin sequence to higher dimensions. We show that such simple models, of interest on their own, also provide accurate descriptions of their general relativistic relatives with event horizons. The examples worked out here hint at some model-independent dynamics, and thus at some universality: smooth objects seem always to be well described by both ``replicas'' (either self-gravity or surface tension). As an example, we exhibit an instability afflicting self-gravitating (Newtonian) fluid cylinders. This instability is the exact analogue, within Newtonian gravity, of the Gregory-Laflamme instability in general relativity. Another example considered is a self-gravitating Newtonian torus made of a homogeneous incompressible fluid. We recover the features of the black ring in general relativity.