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Living Reviews in Relativity: “Gravitational Radiation from…” / “The Hole Argument and…”

Living Reviews in Relativity recently published two new articles: a major update of the review on “Gravitational Radiation from Post-Newtonian Sources and Inspiralling Compact Binaries” by Luc Blanchet and a new article on “The Hole Argument and Some Physical and Philosophical Implications” by John Stachel.

Please find the abstracts and further details below.

PUB.NO. lrr-2014-2
Blanchet, Luc
“Gravitational Radiation from Post-Newtonian Sources and Inspiralling Compact Binaries”

ACCEPTED: 2014-01-27
PUBLISHED: 2014-02-14


To be observed and analyzed by the network of gravitational wave detectors on ground (LIGO, VIRGO, etc.) and by the future detectors in space (eLISA, etc.), inspiralling compact binaries — binary star systems composed of neutron stars and/or black holes in their late stage of evolution — require high-accuracy templates predicted by general relativity theory. The gravitational waves emitted by these very relativistic systems can be accurately modelled using a high-order post-Newtonian gravitational wave generation formalism. In this article, we present the current state of the art on post-Newtonian methods as applied to the dynamics and gravitational radiation of general matter sources (including the radiation reaction back onto the source) and inspiralling compact binaries. We describe the post-Newtonian equations of motion of compact binaries and the associated Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalisms, paying attention to the self-field regularizations at work in the calculations. Several notions of innermost circular orbits are discussed. We estimate the accuracy of the post-Newtonian approximation and make a comparison with numerical computations of the gravitational self-force for compact binaries in the small mass ratio limit. The gravitational waveform and energy flux are obtained to high post-Newtonian order and the binary’s orbital phase evolution is deduced from an energy balance argument. Some landmark results are given in the case of eccentric compact binaries — moving on quasi-elliptical orbits with non-negligible eccentricity. The spins of the two black holes play an important role in the definition of the gravitational wave templates. We investigate their imprint on the equations of motion and gravitational wave phasing up to high post-Newtonian order (restricting to spin-orbit effects which are linear in spins), and analyze the post-Newtonian spin precession equations as well as the induced precession of the orbital plane.

PUB.NO. lrr-2014-1
Stachel, John
“The Hole Argument and Some Physical and Philosophical Implications”

ACCEPTED: 2013-11-17
PUBLISHED: 2014-02-06


This is a historical-critical study of the hole argument, concentrating on the interface between historical, philosophical and physical issues. Although it includes a review of its history, its primary aim is a discussion of the contemporary implications of the hole argument for physical theories based on dynamical, background-independent space-time structures.

The historical review includes Einstein’s formulations of the hole argument, Kretschmann’s critique, as well as Hilbert’s reformulation and Darmois’ formulation of the general-relativistic Cauchy problem. The 1970s saw a revival of interest in the hole argument, growing out of attempts to answer the question: Why did three years elapse between Einstein’s adoption of the metric tensor to represent the gravitational field and his adoption of the Einstein field equations?

The main part presents some modern mathematical versions of the hole argument, including both coordinate-dependent and coordinate-independent definitions of covariance and general covariance; and the fiber bundle formulation of both natural and gauge natural theories. By abstraction from continuity and differentiability, these formulations can be extended from differentiable manifolds to any set; and the concepts of permutability and general permutability applied to theories based on relations between the elements of a set, such as elementary particle theories.

We are closing with an overview of current discussions of philosophical and physical implications of the hole argument.