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Radiation Reaction in Binary Systems in General Relativity


Kennefick, Daniel John (1997) Radiation Reaction in Binary Systems in General Relativity. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/jzcp-a525.


This thesis is concerned with current problems in, and historical aspects of, the problem of radiation reaction in stellar binary systems in general relativity. Part I addresses current issues in the orbital evolution due to gravitational radiation damping of compact binaries. A particular focus is on the inspiral of small bodies orbiting large black holes, employing a perturbation formalism. In addition, the merger, at the end of the insprial, of comparable mass compact binaries, such as neutron star binaries is also discussed. The emphasis of Part I is on providing detailed descriptions of sources and signals with a view to optimising signal analysis in gravitational wave detectors, whether ground- or space-based interferometers, or resonant mass detectors.

Part II of the thesis examines the historical controversies surrounding the prob­lem of gravitational waves, and gravitational radiation damping in stellar binaries. In particular, it focuses on debates in the mid 20th-century on whether binary star systems would really exhibit this type of damping and emit gravitational waves, and on the "quadrupole formula controversy" of the 1970s and 1980s, on the question whether the standard formular describing energy loss due to emission of gravita­tional waves was correctly derived for such systems. The study sheds light on the role of analogy in science, especially where its use is controversial, on the importance of style in physics and on the problem of identity in science, as the use of history as a rhetorical device in controversial debate is examined. The concept of the Theo­retician's Regress is introduced to explain the difficulty encountered by relativists in closing debate in this controversy, which persisted in one form or another for several decades.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Physics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Thorne, Kip S.
Group:TAPIR, Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:9 December 1996
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:08222017-154459722
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:10384
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:25 Aug 2017 14:41
Last Modified:16 Apr 2021 23:03

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