Probing Effective Theories of Gravity in Strong Fields and Cosmology

Coordinators: Cora Dvorkin, Ira Rothstein, and Thomas Sotiriou

Scientific Advisors: Alessandra Buonanno, Pedro Ferreira, and Steve Giddings

KITP and the program coordinators will be delivering remote talk sessions to this program's participants. 

There is strong evidence that General Relativity (GR) is only an effective field theory (EFT). While it is often assumed that the energy scale where the EFT breaks down is near the Planck scale and experimentally inaccessible, tantalizing arguments suggest that GR is not a canonical effective theory.

In particular, the apparent hints of non-locality in black hole evaporation and the small scale associated with the vacuum energy motivate reconsidering EFT ideas in gravity. Given the wealth of data in current and future high precision cosmological surveys, it is necessary to develop a tool kit of theoretically consistent EFTs for analyzing potential deviations from the predictions of GR. The birth of gravitational wave astronomy opens up other avenues for testing gravity in previously unimaginable ways, enabling the study of higher curvature backgrounds as well as black hole horizon physics.

This program is geared towards finding ways to push the boundaries of our knowledge of the EFT of GR by bringing together members of three distinct communities: strong gravity/relativistic astrophysics, cosmology, and EFT.