Close binary systems harboring two compact objects (black holes, neutron stars, white dwarfs) play a prominent role in established, active areas such as pulsar timing and high-energy astrophysics. They also drive nascent, emergent areas such as gravitational-wave astrophysics and studies of dark energy. In this talk I will highlight their prominence in the context of gravitational-wave searches and the quest for uncovering the origin of gamma-ray bursts. I will review our current understanding of the formation frequency of binary compact objects, their expected gravitational-wave signatures and the challenges facing gravitational-wave astronomy. I will also discuss how studies of formation and evolution of binary compact objects couple to the star formation history in the nearby Universe providing an explanation of current gamma-ray burst observations.
Received February 4, 2008