Fr.: formalisme post-newtonien
An approximate version of → general relativity that applies when the → gravitational field is → weak, and the matter → velocity is → small. Post-Newtonian formalism successfully describes the gravitational field of the solar system. It can also be applied to situations involving compact bodies with strong internal gravity, provided that the mutual gravity between bodies is weak. It also provides a foundation to calculate the → gravitational waves emitted by → compact binary star systems, as well as their orbital evolution under radiative losses. The formalism proceeds from the Newtonian description and then, step by step, adds correction terms that take into account the effects of general relativity. The correction terms are ordered in a systematic way (from the largest effects to the smallest ones), and the progression of ever smaller corrections is called the → post-Newtonian expansion.