This chapter presents the physical motivation for general relativity, derives the Einstein field equation and gives concise derivations of the main results of the theory. It begins with the equivalence principle, tidal forces in Newtonian gravity and their connection to curved spacetime geometry. This leads to a derivation of the field equation. Tests of general relativity are considered: Mercury’s perihelion advance, gravitational redshift, the deflection of starlight and gravitational lenses. The exterior and interior Schwarzschild solutions are discussed. Eddington–Finkelstein coordinates are used to describe objects falling into non-rotating black holes. The Kerr metric is used to describe rotating black holes and their astrophysical consequences. Gravitational waves are described and used to explain the orbital decay of binary neutron stars. Their recent detection by LIGO and the beginning of a new era of gravitational wave astronomy is discussed. Finally, the gravitational field equations are derived from the Einstein–Hilbert action.
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