Testing general metric theories of gravity with bursting neutron stars

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18 Scopus citations


I show that several observable properties of bursting neutron stars in metric theories of gravity can be calculated using only conservation laws, Killing symmetries, and the Einstein equivalence principle, without requiring the validity of the general relativistic field equations. I calculate, in particular, the gravitational redshift of a surface atomic line, the touchdown luminosity of a radius-expansion burst, which is believed to be equal to the Eddington critical luminosity, and the apparent surface area of a neutron star as measured during the cooling tails of bursts. I show that, for a general metric theory of gravity, the apparent surface area of a neutron star depends on the coordinate radius of the stellar surface and on its gravitational redshift in the exact same way as in general relativity. On the other hand, the Eddington critical luminosity depends also on an additional parameter that measures the degree to which the general relativistic field equations are satisfied. These results can be used in conjunction with current and future high-energy observations of bursting neutron stars to test general relativity in the strong-field regime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number064006
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 10 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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