Gravitational waves

Numerical Relativity

Numerical relativity investigates ...
Gravitational waves

Gravity is one of the four fundamental interactions in physics. Einstein's General Theory of Relativity contains Newton's theory of gravity as a classical boundary case and describes gravity as the curvature of space-time. Experiments have confirmed the General Theory of Relativity with high accuracy, e.g. for the deflection of light rays and time measurements in GPS. It describes black holes, the Big Bang and gravitational waves.

Einsteinsche Feldgleichung
Einsteinsche Feldgleichung

In numerical relativity, Einstein's field equations are solved on the computer.

Numerical solving these 10 coupled, highly nonlinear partial differential equations allows the investigation of

  • physical properties of astrophysical systems such as the fusion of black holes or neutron stars
  • mathematical properties of spacetimes such as geometry or horizons.

Numerical relativity complements analytical methods and perturbation theory, and allows the calculation of phenomena that cannot be investigated by other methods.

Of particular interest is the calculation of gravitational waves. While the methods of perturbation theory provide the waveforms in the phase of the spiralling in of binary black holes, it is possible in numerical relativity theory to determine waveforms of the fusion phase. These simulated gravitational wave signals are helpful in the detection of gravitational waves.

Solving Einstein's field equations on the computer is a big challenge. It is necessary to cover many different topics.

  • Physics is the goal, but also essential to understand and interpret the results of numerical simulations.
  • Simulations are performed on high-performance computers so that they can be completed within a reasonable time.
  • Mathematics is needed to rewrite Einstein's field equations into a well-founded initial value problem.
  • Numerics provides methods of high accuracy to discretize the Einstein equations and calculate solutions.


Prof. Dr. Bernd Brügmann
Prof. Dr. Sebastiano Bernuzzi
Dr. Roxana Rosca-Mead


Maximilian Kölsch
Maximilian Kölsch
Maximilian Kölsch
Image: M. Kölsch

Short CV

  • 2011-2017: 1. State Examination Mathematics and Physics
  • 2015-2017: Extension exam astronomy
  • Since 2017: Scientific staff member  at the TPI
Francesco Fabbri

Short CV

  • 2014-2017: M.Sc. Astrophysik und Kosmologie at the Università degli Studi di Trieste (University of Trieste), Thema: General Relativistic Simulations of Binary Neutron Stars Mergers: An Engine for Short Gamma Ray Bursts (at University of Trento)
  • Since 2017: Scientific staff member at the TPI
Sarah Renkhoff

Short CV

  • 2016 - 2018: M.Sc. Physics at the TPI Jena, Masterarbeit: "Apparent Horizons in Numerical Spacetimes: A New Apparent Horizon Finder for bamps"
  • Since 2018: Scientific staff member at the TPI
Ondrej Zelenka

Short CV

  • 2017-2019: Mgr. Theoretical Physics, Charles University in Prague, thesis: Dynamics of spinning test particles in curved spacetimes
  • Since 2019: Scientific staff member at the TPI
Daniela Cors

Short CV

  • 2017-2018: MSc in Physics at University College London, UK. Research project: "Derivation of the Lorentz force law from the Einstein-Maxwell field equations".
  • Since 2019: Scientific member of the TPI
Florian Atteneder

Short CV

  • 2017-2019: M.Sc. Physics at the Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (Österreich). Master thesis: „The rotating mass shell in the general theory of relativity“
  • Since 2020: Scientific member of the TPI

Former members

Dr. Niclas Moldenhauer
Dr. Tim Dittrich
Dr. Marcus Bugner
Dr. Hannes Rütter
  • Until 2018: Scientific staff member at the TPI, Dissertation
  • Afterwards: Postdoc at the Max-Planck-Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert-Einstein-Institute, Potsdam)
Dr. Reetika Dudi
  • Until 2019: Scientific staff member at the TPI
  • Afterwards: Postdoc at the Max-Planck-Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert-Einstein-Institute, Potsdam)
Dr. Vivek Chaurasia
  • Until 2020: Scientific staff member at the TPI
  • Afterwards: Postdoc at Stockholm University