Newtonian and Relativistic Cosmologies


Cosmological $N$-body simulations are now being performed using Newtonian gravity on scales larger than the Hubble radius. It is well known that a uniformly expanding, homogeneous ball of dust in Newtonian gravity satisfies the same equations as arise in relativistic Friedmann-Lemaitre-Robinson- Walker cosmology, and it also is known that a correspondence between Newtonian and relativistic dust cosmologies continues to hold in linearized perturbation theory in the marginally bound/spatially flat case. Nevertheless, it is far from obvious that Newtonian gravity can provide a good global description of an inhomogeneous cosmology when there is significant nonlinear dynamical behavior at small scales. We investigate this issue in the light of a perturbative framework that we have recently developed, which allows for such nonlinearity at small scales. We propose a relatively straightforward dictionary—which is exact at the linearized level—that maps Newtonian dust cosmologies into general relativistic dust cosmologies, and we use our “ordering scheme” to determine the degree to which the resulting metric and matter distribution solve Einstein’s equation. We find that, within our ordering scheme, Einstein’s equation fails to hold at “order $1$” at small scales and at “order $\epsilon$” at large scales. We then find the additional corrections to the metric and matter distribution needed to satisfy Einstein’s equation to these orders. While these corrections are of some interest in their own right, our main purpose in calculating them is that their smallness should provide a criterion for the validity of the original dictionary (as well as simplified versions of this dictionary). We expect that, in realistic Newtonian cosmologies, these additional corrections will be very small; if so, this should provide strong justification for the use of Newtonian simulations to describe relativistic cosmologies, even on scales larger than the Hubble radius.

Phys. Rev. D 85, 063512
Stephen R. Green
Stephen R. Green
Nottingham Research Fellow

I am a theoretical physicist studying gravitational waves, based at the University of Nottingham. My main interests are in black hole perturbation theory and applying probabilistic machine-learning methods to analyze LIGO data.