Dr. Chris Kavanagh

Astrophysikalische und Kosmologische Relativitätstheorie
Standort Potsdam
+49 331 567-7243
+49 331 567-7298


My research mostly centres around modelling extreme mass-ratio inspirals (emri's): systems of two compact astrophysical bodies orbiting each other emitting gravitational radiation in which one body is significantly larger in mass than the other. Such systems with a ~10 solar mass black hole orbiting a ~106 solar mass black hole are expected to be rich sources for the space based gravitational wave observatory LISA.

Modelling emri's is most effectively done using the gravitational self-force approach. Here, one employs black hole perturbation theory and methods of dynamical systems to describe the evolving trajectory of the small body and the gravitational waves emitted. A large portion of my research has involved using asymptotic methods to calculate physical effects of the gravitational self force. Most recently I have been interested in how spin of the small body is included in the the self-force framework.

I am also interested in the overlap between emri modelling and the effective-one-body model (EOB). EOB is an analytic repackaging of the two body problem in general relativity primarily used for LIGO type systems where the the masses of the two bodies is roughly equivalent.

Here are links to my publications: from Spires, and from the ADS database.


I studied Mathematical Physics in University College Dublin from 2006-2010. After that I completed a Masters in Advanced Study in Applied mathematics (previously referred to as Part 3) at the University of Cambridge from 2010-2011. Under the supervision of Prof Adrian Ottewill back in University College Dublin, I completed a PhD thesis titled 'High Order Asymptotic Expansions for Extreme Mass-Ratio Binaries', graduating in 2016. Following this I was a post-doc at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques under Prof Thibault Damour from 2016-2018. In December 2018 I joined the AEI.

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