[0909.2994] Constructing the self-force

Authors: Eric Poisson

Date: 16 Sep 2009

Abstract: I present an overview of the methods involved in the computation of the scalar, electromagnetic, and gravitational self-forces acting on a point particle moving in a curved spacetime. For simplicity, the focus here will be on the scalar self-force. The lecture follows closely my review article on this subject published in Living Reviews in Relativity. I begin with a review of geometrical elements (Synge's world function, the parallel propagator). Next I introduce useful coordinate systems (Fermi normal coordinates and retarded light-cone coordinates) in a neighborhood of the particle's world line. I then present the wave equation for a scalar field in curved spacetime and the equations of motion for a particle endowed with a scalar charge. The wave equation is solved by means of a Green's function, and the self-force is constructed from the field gradient. Because the retarded field is singular on the world line, the self-force must involve a regularized version of the field gradient, and I describe how the regular piece of the self-field can be identified. In the penultimate section of the lecture I put the construction of the self-force on a sophisticated axiomatic basis, and in the concluding section I explain how one can do better by abandoning the dangerous fiction of a point particle

abs pdf

Sep 18, 2009

0909.2994 (/preprints)
2009-09-18, 14:48 [edit]


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