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Astrophsyics

PCOS 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.



PCOS News

Program News and Announcements

24 July 2018
The National Academies has released information about the 2020 Decadal Survey call for Community Science White Papers. They will be due 7–18 January 2018. See here for further instructions.
1 June 2018
MMA SAG analyzing the benefits of multimessenger observations made possible by NASA observatories in the 2020 decade and beyond launched! Join the kickoff telecon Friday, 8 June, and sign up today! »  Full details
18 May 2018
Gamma-ray SIG Workshop for Decadal Survey Science White Papers, 23–24 May 2018, George Washington University »  Workshop Sign-up
26 Feb 2018
LISA Preparatory Science is a new program element in ROSES 2018 to provide support for U.S. investigators involved in analysis and interpretation of simulated LISA data. Mandatory NOIs are due 19 Mar 2018 and full proposals are due 14 Jun 2018.

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  • NASA Official: Phil Newman
  • Web Curator: Pat Tyler
Goddard Space Flight Center
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