Mass, charge, and motion in covariant gravity theories

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12 Scopus citations


Previous work established a universal form for the equation of motion of small bodies in theories of a metric and other tensor fields that have second-order field equations following from a covariant Lagrangian in four spacetime dimensions. Differences in the motion of the "same" body in two different theories are entirely accounted for by differences in the body's effective mass and charges in those different theories. Previously the process of computing the mass and charges for a particular body was left implicit, to be determined in each particular theory as the need arises. I now obtain explicit expressions for the mass and charges of a body as surface integrals of the fields it generates, where the integrand is constructed from the symplectic current for the theory. This allows the entire prescription for computing the motion of a small body to be written down in a few lines, in a manner universal across bodies and theories. For simplicity I restrict to scalar and vector fields (in addition to the metric), but there is no obstacle to treating higher-rank tensor fields. I explicitly apply the prescription to work out specific equations for various body types in Einstein gravity, generalized Brans-Dicke theory (in both Jordan and Einstein frames), Einstein-Maxwell theory and the Will-Nordvedt vector-tensor theory. In the scalar-tensor case, this clarifies the origin and meaning of the "sensitivities" defined by Eardley and others, and provides explicit formulas for their evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104020
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 20 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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