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Metric Theories of Gravity and their Astrophysical Implications


Ni, Wei-Tou (1973) Metric Theories of Gravity and their Astrophysical Implications. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/MCQM-3M81.


The increasing importance of relativistic gravity in astrophysics has led to the need for a detailed analysis of theories of gravity and their viability. Accordingly, in this thesis, metric theories of gravity are compiled, and are classified into four groups: (i) general relativity (ii) scalar-tensor theories (iii) conformally flat theories and (iv) stratified theories. The post-Newtonian limit of each theory is constructed and its Parametrized Post-Newtonian (PPN) values are obtained. These results, when combined with experimental data and with recent work by Nordtvedt and Will, show that, of all theories thus far examined by our group, the only currently viable ones are (i) general relativity, (ii) the Bergmann-Wagoner scalar-tensor theory and its special cases (Nordtvedt; Brans-Dicke-Jordan, (iii) recent, (as yet unpublished ) vector-tensor theory by Nordtvedt, Hellings, and Will, and (iv) a new stratified theory by the author, which is presented for the first time in this thesis.

The PPN formalism is used to analyze stellar stability in any metric theory of gravity. This analysis enables one to infer, for any given gravitation theory, the extent to which post-Newtonian effects induce instabilities in white dwarfs, in neutron stars, and in supermassive stars. It also reveals the extent to which our current empirical knowledge of post-Newtonian gravity (based on solar-system experiments) actually guarantees that relativistic instabilities exist. In particular, it shows that for "conservative theories of gravity", current solar-system experiments gua­rantee that relativistic corrections do induce dynamical instabilities in stars with adiabatic indices slightly greater than 4/3, while for "non-conservative theories", current experiments do not permit any firm conclusion.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:(Physics and Mathematics)
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Minor Option:Mathematics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Thorne, Kip S.
Group:TAPIR, Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:11 September 1972
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASANGR 05-002-256
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:08282017-154628547
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:10395
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:29 Aug 2017 14:28
Last Modified:15 Jul 2024 21:33

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