Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Exploring gravity
Author: Berry, Christopher P. L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 9937
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
Gravitation is the dominant influence in most astrophysical interactions. Weak-field interactions have been extensively studied, but the strong-field regime remains largely unexplored. Gravitational waves (GWs) are an excellent means of accessing strong-field regions. We investigate what we can learn about both astrophysics and gravitation from strong-field tests and, in particular, GWs; we focus upon extreme-mass-ratio (EMR) systems where a small body orbits a much more massive one. EMR bursts, a particular class of GW signals, could be used to determine the properties of massive black holes (MBHs). They could be detectable with a space-borne interferometer from many nearby galaxies, as well as the Galactic centre. Bursts could provide insightful constraints on the MBHs' parameters. These could elucidate the formation history of the MBHs and, by association, their host galaxies. The Galactic centre is the most promising source. Its event rate is determined by the stellar distribution surrounding the MBH; the rate is not high, but we still expect to gain useful astronomical information from bursts. Strong-field tests may reveal deviations from general relativity (GR). We calculate modifications that could be observed assuming metric f(R)-gravity as an effective alternative theory. Gravitational radiation is modified, as are planetary precession rates. Both give a means of testing GR. However, existing laboratory measurements already place tighter constraints on f(R)-gravity, unless there exists a screening effect, such as the chameleon mechanism, which suppresses modifications on small scales. To make precision measurements of astrophysical systems or place exacting bounds on deviations from GR, we must have accurate GW templates. Transient resonances are currently not included in the prescription for generating EMR inspiral waveforms. Their effects can be estimated from asymptotic expansions of the evolving orbital parameters. The quantitative impact on parameter estimation has yet to be calculated, but it appears that it shall be necessary to incorporate resonances when creating inspiral waveforms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: General relativity ; Massive black holes ; Gravitational wave astronomy ; Gravitational radiation ; f(R)-gravity ; Transient resonances ; Dynamical friction ; Data analysis