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Astrophsyics

PhysCOS Science Goals

Test the validity of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and investigate the nature of spacetime

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is one of the most cherished fundamental theories of physics. But this description of gravity is widely expected to be incomplete because of its lack of a quantum foundation. The electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces, by contrast, are well defined by quantum mechanics. Most tests of General Relativity have been done in low gravitational fields, e.g., within the Solar System. Among the most stringent tests to date are the binary pulsar observations where the effects of gravitational radiation are important. However, the best tests would be in the most extreme conditions, near the event horizons of black holes, and where black holes are interacting at close range, particularly where velocities are an appreciable fraction of the speed of light. General Relativity makes specific predictions about how the light emitted from material in the inner-most regions around a black hole is distorted and gravitationally redshifted. Detailed observations of that light will provide stringent tests of strong gravity. General relativity also predicts that the inspiral of two massive objects will perturb spacetime and generate gravitational waves. The most extreme conditions and hence the strongest gravitational wave signals exist during the merger of massive black holes. Studying gravity in these strong field limits will provide essential tests of General Relativity and the nature of spacetime.


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  • 2 December 2022
    The 2022 AGU Fall Meeting – 12–16 December 2022, Chicago, IL »  Details.
    2 December 2022
    Join the New Great Observatories Science Analysis Group »  Details.
    2 December 2022
    New Gamma-ray Transient Network Science Analysis Group »  Details.
    2 December 2022
    Inclusion Plan Best Practices Workshop Presentations and Recordings Posted »  Details.
    2 December 2022
    ROSES-22 D.13 Astrophysics Pioneers Revised Text »  Details.
    2 December 2022
    ROSES-22 F.5 FINESST Proposals due 7 February 2023 »  Details.
    17 November 2022
    LEM Science Workshop 28 February – 3 March 2023 »  Details.
    15 November 2022
    Call for Nominations to Serve on the Executive Committee (EC) of NASA’s Physics of the Cosmos Program Analysis Group (PhysPAG) »  Details.
    14 November 2022
    First XRISM Data Analysis Workshop »  Details.
    14 November 2022
    Physics of the Cosmos Abbreviation Change »  Details.
    12 October 2022
    ROSES-22: NOI Due Date Delay for D.3 Astrophysics Research and Analysis and D.7 Strategic Astrophysics Technology; inclusion plan change »  Details.
    12 October 2022
    ROSES-22: D.9 NuSTAR GO Major Text Revision »  Details.
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