Solving Einstein's Equations on a Supercomputer

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Session 50 -- Grand Challenges in Computational Astrophysics Part I
Oral presentation, Wednesday, 1, 1994, 8:30-12:30

[50.04] Solving Einstein's Equations on a Supercomputer

S.L.Shapiro (Cornell)

Einstein's theory of general relativity is widely accepted as the correct description of relativistic gravity. Consequences of the theory like black holes are routinely used to account for the properties of astrophysical phenomena such as quasars and AGNs. Many high-precision tests of general relativity have been carried out to confirm the theory. However, all of these tests probe only the weak-field, slow-velocity limit of the theory. These are the lowest order corrections to Newtonian gravitation theory. There are no experiments as yet that test the strong field character of the theory. Processes such as the formation of black holes or gravitational radiation from colliding black holes are required to test the strong field regime. Large-scale computations on supercomputers provide the only way to probe strong field phenomena at present. The field is still in its infancy but numerical relativity has already provided useful insights into the nature of relativistic gravitation. Already, the collapse of fluid stars and collisionless star clusters to black holes can be followed in spherical and axisymmetry. The collision of relativistic stars and clusters, as well as black holes, can also be studied by numerical means, although only the head-on case has been treated so far. Simulations have even been performed which suggest the formation of naked singularities and the possible violation of cosmic censorship. A computer-generated color video highlighting some of these findings will be presented.

Wednesday program listing