(Formerly offered as Astronomy 73x.)

Jeff Kuhn -- Spring 2001

1. Course objectives

General Relativity (GR) is the most complete and accurate theory of gravitation currently available. It plays a key role in Cosmology, describes the structure of black holes, predicts the deflection of light by gravity, and refines orbit calculations in the Solar System. GR also serves as a starting point for attempts to construct unified descriptions of physics. Upon completion of this course students should be able to solve graduate level GR problems and be able to comprehend the GR tools and techniques applied to many astrophysical research problems.

2. Organization & syllabus

The primary text for the course will be Weinberg's Gravitation and Cosmology, but the following texts will also be reserved at the library and are useful sources for secondary readings:

Weeks Subject Reading
1 Gravity basics, Equivalence principles: relationship of inertia & gravity Notes
2, 3 Classical scalar, tensor, and vector theories: gravity in flat space-time Notes
4, 5 Connections, Metrics, Geodesic equation: coordinates in curved space-time, free-fall trajectories of particles & photons Ch. 3
6, 7 Tensors, Parallel transport, Covariance: geometrical objects & derivatives Notes
8 Stress tensor, Fluids: models of mass-energy in GR Ch. 5
9, 10 Curvature tensor, Field equation: how mass-energy curves space-time Ch. 6, 7
11, 12 Spherically symmetric solutions, Classical tests: Schwarzschild metric, black holes, Solar-System predictions Ch. 8
13 Gravitomagnetic solutions: weak-field limit, dragging of inertial frames Notes
14 Gravitational radiation: properties, astrophysical sources, detectors Notes

Joshua E. Barnes (
Last modified: April 23, 2002