Barack, Leor and Pound, Adam
(2018)
Self-force and radiation reaction in general relativity.
*Reports on Progress in Physics*, 82 (1), 1-46.
(doi:10.1088/1361-6633/aae552).

## Abstract

The detection of gravitational waves from binary black-hole mergers by the LIGO–Virgo Collaboration marks the dawn of an era when general-relativistic dynamics in its most extreme manifestation is directly accessible to observation. In the future, planned (space-based) observatories operating in the millihertz band will detect the intricate gravitational-wave signals from the inspiral of compact objects into massive black holes residing in galactic centers. Such inspiral events are extremely effective probes of black-hole geometries, offering unparalleled precision tests of general relativity in its most extreme regime. This prospect has in the past two decades motivated a programme to obtain an accurate theoretical model of the strong-field radiative dynamics in a two-body system with a small mass ratio. The problem naturally lends itself to a perturbative treatment based on a systematic expansion of the field equations in the small mass ratio. At leading order one has a pointlike particle moving in a geodesic orbit around the large black hole. At subsequent orders, interaction of the particle with its own gravitational perturbation gives rise to an effective 'self-force', which drives the radiative evolution of the orbit, and whose effects can be accounted for order by order in the mass ratio.

This review surveys the theory of gravitational self-force in curved spacetime and its application to the astrophysical inspiral problem. We first lay the relevant formal foundation, describing the rigorous derivation of the equation of self-forced motion using matched asymptotic expansions and other ideas. We then review the progress that has been achieved in numerically calculating the self-force and its physical effects in astrophysically realistic inspiral scenarios. We highlight the way in which, nowadays, self-force calculations make a fruitful contact with other approaches to the two-body problem and help inform an accurate universal model of binary black hole inspirals, valid across all mass ratios. We conclude with a summary of the state of the art, open problems and prospects.

Our review is aimed at non-specialist readers and is for the most part self-contained and non-technical; only elementary-level acquaintance with general relativity is assumed. Where useful, we draw on analogies with familiar concepts from Newtonian gravity or classical electrodynamics.

**RoPP - Accepted Manuscript**

## More information

## Identifiers

## Catalogue record

## Export record

## Altmetrics

## Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.