Gravitational Physics -- Unveiling the geometry of space and time
Gravity is one of the fundamental forces in nature and responsible for the formation of large scale structures in the universe. The gravitational field is described by the Einstein equations of General Relativity, which formulate the highly nonlinear interaction between matter/energy and the four-dimensional curved spacetime. This General Relativistic description of gravitating systems demands high mathematical standards both on the analytical and numerical side.
Gravitational Physics research at the Faculty of Physics encompasses several fields:
- Black hole theory, the physics of compact objects, and the threshold of black hole formation. General Relativity predicts that neutron stars and black holes are end states of stellar evolution. There is strong observational evidence that super-massive black holes exist at the centre of most galaxies, including our own Milky Way.
- Cosmological singularities and the expansion of the universe. According to the current standard model the universe emerged from an initial singularity (big bang) and has been expanding ever since. In the past decade observations showed that the expansion is accelerating at present, which has led to postulating the as yet mysterious "dark energy".
- Gravitational waves. Oscillations of the geometry produced by accelerated bodies are radiated in the form of gravitational waves. Currently efforts are on the way to detect these waves directly. This will lead to a new window for the exploration of the universe.
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