The asymptotic structure of the gravitational field of isolated systems has been analyzed in great detail in the case when the cosmological constant Λ is zero. The resulting framework lies at the foundation of research in diverse areas in gravitational science. Examples include: (i) positive energy theorems in geometric analysis; (ii) the coordinate invariant characterization of gravitational waves in full, nonlinear general relativity; (iii) computations of the energy-momentum emission in gravitational collapse and binary mergers in numerical relativity and relativistic astrophysics; and (iv) constructions of asymptotic Hilbert spaces to calculate S-matrices and analyze the issue of information loss in the quantum evaporation of black holes. However, by now observations have led to a strong consensus that Λ is positive in our universe. In this paper we show that, unfortunately, the standard framework does not extend from the case to the case in a physically useful manner. In particular, we do not have positive energy theorems, nor an invariant notion of gravitational waves in the nonlinear regime, nor asymptotic Hilbert spaces in dynamical situations of semi-classical gravity. A suitable framework to address these conceptual issues of direct physical importance is developed in subsequent papers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)