Journal of High Energy Physics

, 2018:133 | Cite as

Memory, Penrose limits and the geometry of gravitational shockwaves and gyratons

  • Graham M. ShoreEmail author
Open Access
Regular Article - Theoretical Physics


The geometric description of gravitational memory for strong gravitational waves is developed, with particular focus on shockwaves and their spinning analogues, gyratons. Memory, which may be of position or velocity-encoded type, characterises the residual separation of neighbouring ‘detector’ geodesics following the passage of a gravitational wave burst, and retains information on the nature of the wave source. Here, it is shown how memory is encoded in the Penrose limit of the original gravitational wave spacetime and a new ‘timelike Penrose limit’ is introduced to complement the original plane wave limit appropriate to null congruences. A detailed analysis of memory is presented for timelike and null geodesic congruences in impulsive and extended gravitational shockwaves of Aichelburg-Sexl type, and for gyratons. Potential applications to gravitational wave astronomy and to quantum gravity, especially infra-red structure and ultra-high energy scattering, are briefly mentioned.


Classical Theories of Gravity Models of Quantum Gravity 


Open Access

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics, College of ScienceSwansea UniversitySwanseaU.K.

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