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Ole Rømer Colloquium - Norbert Wex, Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy: Precision Gravity Tests with Radio Pulsars

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Wednesday 15 May 2019,  at 15:15 - 16:00


This year in May we are celebrating 100 years of the eclipse expeditions that for the first time confirmed the light bending in the gravitational field of the Sun as predicted by Einstein’s general relativity (GR). Since then, the precision of GR tests in the Solar system has improved by many orders of magnitude. However there are aspects of gravity which lie beyond the weak-field slow-motion regime of the Solar system, and their investigation requires compact strongly self-gravitating bodies. For that reason, the discovery of the first binary pulsar by Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor in 1974 opened up completely new possibilities to probe our understanding of space, time and gravity.

To date there are a number of radio pulsars known, which can be utilized for precision test of gravity. Depending on their orbital properties and the nature of their companion, these pulsars provide tests for various different predictions of GR and its alternatives. In particular, the so called 'Double Pulsar' has more than lived up to our early expectations. In many aspects, pulsar experiments are complementary to other present and upcoming gravity tests, like gravitational-wave observatories or the Event Horizon Telescope.

In my talk, I will give an introduction to gravity tests with radio pulsars, highlight some of the most important results, and give a brief outlook into the future of this exciting field of experimental gravity.