Gravitational fourpotential is a fourvector function (4vector), by
which the properties of gravitational field are determined in the Lorentzinvariant theory of gravitation, ^{[1]} as well as in the covariant theory of gravitation. ^{[2]} The gravitational 4potential includes the
scalar and vector potentials of gravitational field. During the gauge
transformation the potentials of the gravitational field can change their form
so that noncoinciding 4potentials with different dependence on the coordinates
and time can correspond to the same gravitational field.
Contents

Gravitational 4potential, like
any 4vector, consists of the scalar and vector parts, which in sum give 4
components:
The timelike component of the
4potential is the scalar potential , divided by the speed of gravitation . The spacelike component of the
4potential is represented by the vector potential of gravitational field , which has three components.
Definition of the
4potential in
the covariant representation with a lower index is preferred to the
contravariant representation (with an upper index), as it makes the solution of
equations easier.
In the transition from one
reference frame to another the 4potential is transformed in accordance with
the axioms of the metric theory of
relativity. In case of Minkowski space of the special theory of relativity transformations
of the 4potential are performed from one inertial frame to another using
Lorentz transformations.
In the international system of
units SI the gravitational 4potential is
measured in m/s, in the system of physical units CGS – in cm/s.
By the gravitational 4potential
the gravitational tensor is determined,
for this purpose a 4rotor is used:
The antisymmetric tensor contains only 6 components, three of which
are associated with the vector of gravitational
field strength , and the other three components – with the vector of the gravitational torsion field . In Cartesian coordinates these vectors
are obtained as follows:
From the latter relation we see that
the torsion field depends only on the vector potential. At the same time,
contribution into the gravitational field strength is made not only by the
gradient of the scalar potential, but also by the rate of change in time of the
vector potential.
The most convenient is
the gauge, when the 4divergence of the 4potential is zero:
In the special
relativity the covariant derivative becomes a
partial derivative . This allows us to
represent the gauge condition explicitly as follows:
In the
Lorentzinvariant theory of gravitation the Heaviside equations for
gravitational field are written in the fourdimensional form:
It can be shown that
the gauge condition of the 4potential (2) follows from the definition of the
gravitational tensor (1) and the field equations (3) and (4). If we apply the
partial derivative to (4), then its
action in the first two terms in (4) on the tensor can be
considered with the help of (3). For the third term in (4) we obtain the
relation , where is the 4d'Alembertian operator:
here the Laplace
operator is applied, which in Cartesian coordinates has the form
Substituting in (4)
with its
expression according to (1), from (4) as a simplest option we obtain the wave equation for the 4potential, the
source of which is the mass 4current : ^{[3]}
where is the gravitational constant.
On the other hand, if
in (3) we substitute with its expression
according to (1), we obtain again the wave equation (5) for the 4potential,
but only given the gauge conditions of the 4potential (2) is met. Thus, due to the symmetry of
fields, this calibration can simplify the field equations.
Note that if we take
the partial derivative of both sides in
(3), then taking into account (1) the left side is equal to zero. Then from the
equality of the right side to zero the continuity equation follows
for the mass 4current:
If we subtract from the
gravitational 4potential the gauge 4vector
of the form , depending on a scalar
gauge function , then provided that
the function satisfies the
wave equation
for the new
4potential the gauge condition (2) will remain in force,
and the gravitational tensor according to (1) will not change its form. Thus,
the Lorentzinvariant theory of gravitation and built upon it the covariant
theory of gravitation are gauge theories.
In the covariant
theory of gravitation the Heaviside equations (3) and (4) for
gravitational field are generalized for the curved spacetime and are written in
such form: ^{[2]}
The continuity equation
for the mass 4current becomes dependent on Ricci tensor : ^{ [4]}
Wave equation instead
of (5) is as follows:
In the curved spacetime
in the equation we should take into account mixing of the vector components. In
particular, the scalar potential of gravitational field becomes the function
not only of the mass density , but also of the mass
current density , where is the velocity
of the matter.
In the special theory
of relativity, the Christoffel symbols are zero, and then the solution of the wave equation can be simplified
so that it can be represented as follows: ^{[2]}
where the gravitational
4potential at
the time point at the point of the space determined by the radius vector , is found by integrating over the volume,
containing the mass 4current (or 4vector of mass current density) . In this case integration over the volume
is carried out for an earlier point in time
,
where is
the radius vector that specifies the location of the mass 4current at the
earlier time, is the speed of gravitation.
From the given solution
for the timelike components of 4vectors we can see that the scalar potential
depends on the mass density of a certain moving particle at the earlier point
in time and on the distance from this particle to the point where the potential
is measured. In turn, the vector potential also depends on the speed of the
particle at the earlier point in time. The presence of the volume integral
implies that for the potentials of gravitational field the superposition principle holds, and for calculating the total 4potential we
should take into account all sources of the field.
The 4potential of the proper gravitational field of a single point particle can be
obtained in another way – by multiplying the scalar gravitational
potential around this particle, calculated in the
reference frame comoving with this particle, by the 4velocity of the point
particle:
For the observer, relative to which
the point particle is moving, according to the Lorentz transformations the
scalar potential changes due to the motion of the particle: , and also the vector potential appears, which
is equal to . This
gives the ordinary definition of the gravitational 4potential in the form
Really, the fourpotential of any vector field for a single particle can
be represented as: ^{[5]}
where for
electromagnetic field and for other fields, and are the mass density and accordingly charge
density in comoving reference frame, is the field energy density of the
particle, is the covariant fourvelocity.
For gravitational field , , and assuming equality of the speed of light and the
speed of gravity , we arrive to formulas for the 4 potential , shown above.
In a system of a set of point
particles composing material bodies, in order to find the total 4potential we
should add 4potentials of all point particles, taking into account the
differences in their 4velocities and their different location in space. As a
result the total vector potential of the system of particles only indirectly
reflects the total scalar potential of the given system of particles, in
contrast to the direct relation between the scalar and vector potentials of an
individual point particle. In the case of calculating the total 4potential of
a massive solid body, given the different distances from the parts of the body
to the point where the 4potential is defined, we obtain the gravitational
Liénard–Wiechert potential. ^{[6]}^{
[7]}
The
gravitational 4potential is part of the Lagrangian for the matter in
gravitational and electromagnetic fields that allows us to write the
corresponding action function: ^{[8]} ^{[4]}
where is
Lagrangian, is
the time differential of the reference frame used, is
a certain coefficient, is
the scalar curvature, is
the cosmological constant, which characterizes the energy density of the
considered system as a whole and therefore is the function of the system, is
the speed of light as a measure of the propagation speed of electromagnetic and
gravitational interactions, the electromagnetic 4potential where is the scalar potential, and is the vector potential, – electric fourcurrent, is
the vacuum permittivity, –
electromagnetic tensor, – acceleration tensor,
and
are some constants, is fourpotential of pressure field, – pressure
field tensor, is the invariant 4volume expressed through
the differential of the time coordinate , through
the product of
differentials of the space coordinates, and through the square root of
the determinant of
the metric tensor taken with a negative sign.
In the action integral the gravitational
4potential is present within the invariant
, and as well as part of the gravitational field tensor and its invariant . In the first case, the 4potential
determines the function of the binding energy of the substance and the field,
and in the second case it determines the energy function of the field as an
independent object. The variation of the action function leads to the
determination of the gravitational
stressenergy tensor of the gravitational field, sets the gravitational
field equations (3) and (4), the equation of the substance motion in the field
and the expression for the gravitational fourforce.
In classical mechanics instead of
the total 4potential its scalar component is used in the form of the
gravitational potential. This allows us to find the potential gravitational
energy of bodies and the equations of their motion. In order to calculate the
scalar gravitational potential the Poisson equation is used of the form: , where is
the Laplace operator, is
the volume density of the mass distribution at the considered point. However,
the expressions obtained for the potential, forces and energies are not Lorentz
covariant, that is, the problem arises during the translation of the results
from one inertial frame to another.
The gravitational 4potential
practically is not considered in the general relativity (GR). This is due to
the fact that in GR the gravitational field is considered identical to the
metric field, and the components of the metric tensor are used as the
gravitational potentials, and the Christoffel symbols are used instead of the
field strength. In the weak field the relation can be established between the
component of
the metric tensor of the spacetime and the gravitational scalar potential in
classical mechanics: , where is
the speed of light. The vector potential of gravitational field that is used in the Lorentzinvariant theory
of gravitation can also be expressed in terms of the components of the metric
tensor of GR.
On the other hand, in the
axiomatic construction of the Lorentzinvariant
theory of gravitation (LITG) it is the 4potential that represents the gravitational field,
while as for the substance it is represented by the mass 4current . The fifth axiom of LITG states that
d'Alembertian of the 4potential equals the mass 4current with a corresponding
constant factor. ^{[2]} It is sufficient to derive all of the
relations of the Lorentzinvariant theory of gravitation. The axiomatics of
LITG is the same for the covariant theory
of gravitation (CTG), since CTG is the generalization of LITG to the curved
spacetime, in which the metric tensor is dependent on the time and coordinates.
The gravitational 4potential as
well as the electromagnetic 4potential, acting on test bodies, influences the
rate of time in these bodies. ^{[9]} This leads to the
fact that the same processes that occur in bodies, which are located in
different 4potentials, get out of phase. For the phase shift between two
identical particles with the mass and the charge , one of which is in a certain
gravitational (electromagnetic) field, we obtain:
here is
the Dirac constant, is the electromagnetic 4potential, is
the 4displacement of the particle in space and time.
The latter relation for the phase
shift in electromagnetic field is confirmed by the AharonovBohm
effect.