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Why does the h tensor represent gravity waves?

  1. Jan 10, 2015 #1
    What makes it more "gravity-wavy" than the fi or psi scalar of the vector perturbations??? (Im talking about metric perturbations)

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 10, 2015 #2


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    What is the difference between a scalar and a tensor?
  4. Jan 10, 2015 #3


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    Can you first figure out why you need to perturb the metric tensor? Then, if you write [itex] g_{\mu\nu} = \eta_{\mu\nu} + \mbox{first order perturbation} [/itex], how do you balance the indices?
  5. Jan 10, 2015 #4
    Sorry can you be more explicit? Thanks!
  6. Jan 11, 2015 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    Um, the fact that "gravity waves" are metric perturbations, by definition?

    I'm confused about what you're asking here. "Scalar", "vector", "tensor", "gravity wave", etc. are all just labels. If you're asking about why we choose certain labels for certain concepts, I don't see how we're going to answer that here; you'd have to ask the people who came up with the labels. If you're asking about some actual physics, what physics?
  7. Jan 11, 2015 #6
    Ok, I'll be more clear myself. Im reading mukhanov "physical foundations of cosmology". There he says that metric perturbations can be decomposed in scalar, vector and tensor perturbations. Then he says that the tensor perturbation, represented there with letter "h" are Gravity Waves. Why does he say that for the h fluctuation but not for the scalar fluctuation? (Represented there by greek letters fi or psi)

    Hope that helps to make you understand my doubt.
  8. Jan 12, 2015 #7


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    Because, as PeterDonis said, gravity waves are metric perturbations, by definition. To produce gravitational waves, you need an oscillating quadrupole moment as a source, in contrast to electromagnetic radiation, which requires an oscillating dipole moment.
  9. Jan 12, 2015 #8
    Ok, so, what I have wrong is my comprenhension of Gravity Waves. What I sort of understood from Leonard Susskind videos was that a short perturbation (of any kind, dipole, quadrupole, etc.) in a far place produces gravity waves but I will see that again (and I will go to my GR books, I always overlooked the "Gravity Waves chapter").

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