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Module MAU44404: General Relativity

Credit weighting (ECTS)
5 credits
Semester/term taught
Hilary term 2021-22
Contact Hours
11 weeks, 3 lectures including tutorials per week
Prof Andrei Parnachev
Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of this module students will be able to;
  • Define the Einstein-Hilbert action and derive Einstein's equations from an action principle;
  • Define the stress-energy-momentum tensor, obtain its components in an orthonormal tetrad, and obtain explicit expressions for the stress-energy-momentum tensor describing a perfect fluid matter distribution;
  • Derive the canonical form of the Schwarzschild solution to the vacuum field equations under the sole assumption of spherical symmetry, and hence state Birkhoff's Theorem;
  • Derive expressions for the gravitational redshift, perihelion advance of the planets, and light deflection in the Schwarzschild space-time and hence discuss solar system tests of General Relativity;
  • Obtain the geodesic equations in arbitrary space-times and hence describe various trajectories such as radially in-falling particles or circular geodesics etc.;
  • Obtain the maximal extension of the Schwarzschild solution in Kruskal coordinates and hence discuss the Schwarzschild black hole;
  • Define spatial isotropy with respect to a universe filled with a congruence of time-like world-lines, discuss the consequences of global isotropy on the shear, vorticity and expansion of the congruence and hence construct the Friedmann-Robertson-Walker metric;
  • Obtain the Friedmann and Raychaudhuri equations from the Einstein field equations, solve these equations for the scale factor and discuss the cosmogonical and eschatological consequences of the solutions;
  • Derive the Einstein equations in the linear approximation and discuss the Newtonian limit in the weak-field, slow-moving approximation;
  • Use the gauge freedom to show that, in the Einstein-deDonder gauge, the perturbations satisfy an inhomogeneous wave-equation, to solve in terms of plane-waves, and to use the residual gauge freedom to show that for waves propagating in the positive z-direction there are only two linearly independent non-zero components;
  • Derive the Reissner-Nordstrom solution of the Einstein-Maxwell field equations, obtain its maximal extension and discuss the Reissner-Nordstrom black hole solution;
Recommended Reading
Each of these texts are useful, but beware of the many different signatures and notations.
  • Introducing Einstein's Relativity, R. D'Inverno, (Oxford University Press 1992)
  • A First Course in General Relativity, B.Schutz, (Cambridge University Press 2011)
  • General Relativity, H.Stephani, (Cambridge University Press 1982)
  • General Relativity, R.M. Wald, (Chicago University Press 1984)

Module Prerequisite

MAU34301, MAU34402
Assessment Detail
This module will be examined in a 2 hour examination at the annual session. Continuous assessment will contribute 15% to the final grade for the module at the annual examination session. Re-assessments if required will consist of 100% exam.