Numerical relativity and astrophysics

Luis Lehner, Frans Pretorius

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Throughout the Universe many powerful events are driven by strong gravitational effects that require general relativity to fully describe them. These include compact binary mergers, black hole accretion, and stellar collapse, where velocities can approach the speed of light and extreme gravitational fields (ΦNewt/c2≃1) mediate the interactions. Many of these processes trigger emission across a broad range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Compact binaries further source strong gravitational wave emission that could directly be detected in the near future. This feat will open up a gravitational wave window into our Universe and revolutionize our understanding of it. Describing these phenomena requires general relativity, and where dynamical effects strongly modify gravitational fields the full Einstein equations coupled to matter sources. Numerical relativity is a field within general relativity concerned with studying such scenarios that cannot be accurately modeled via perturbative or analytical calculations. In this review, we examine results obtained within this discipline, with a focus on its impact in astrophysics.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)661-694
Number of pages34
JournalAnnual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - Aug 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • black holes
  • gamma-ray bursts
  • gravitational waves
  • neutron stars


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