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In the theory of general relativity, a stress-energy-momentum pseudotensor, such as the Landau-Lifshitz pseudotensor, is an extension of the non-gravitational stress-energy tensor that incorporates the energy-momentum of gravity. It allows the energy-momentum of a system of gravitating matter to be defined. In particular it allows the total of matter plus the gravitating energy-momentum to form a conserved current within the framework of general relativity, so that the total energy-momentum crossing the hypersurface (3-dimensional boundary) of any compact space-timehypervolume (4-dimensional submanifold) vanishes.
Some people (such as Erwin Schrödinger) have objected to this derivation on the grounds that pseudotensors are inappropriate objects in general relativity, but the conservation law only requires the use of the 4-divergence of a pseudotensor which is, in this case, a tensor (which also vanishes). Also, most pseudotensors are sections of jet bundles, which are now recognized as perfectly valid objects in GR.
The use of the Landau-Lifshitz pseudotensor, a stress-energy-momentum pseudotensor for combined matter (including photons and neutrinos) plus gravity, allows the energy-momentum conservation laws to be extended into general relativity. Subtraction of the matter stress-energy-momentum tensor from the combined pseudotensor results in the gravitational stress-energy-momentum pseudotensor.
Landau and Lifshitz were led by four requirements in their search for a gravitational energy momentum pseudotensor, :
that it be constructed entirely from the metric tensor, so as to be purely geometrical or gravitational in origin.
that it vanish locally in an inertial frame of reference (which requires that it only contains first and not second or higher derivatives of the metric). This is because the equivalence principle requires that the gravitational force field, the Christoffel symbols, vanish locally in some frame. If gravitational energy is a function of its force field, as is usual for other forces, then the associated gravitational pseudotensor should also vanish locally.
Landau & Lifshitz showed that there is a unique construction that satisfies these requirements, namely
Examining the 4 requirement conditions we can see that the first 3 are relatively easy to demonstrate:
Since the Einstein tensor, , is itself constructed from the metric, so therefore is
Since the Einstein tensor, , is symmetric so is since the additional terms are symmetric by inspection.
The Landau-Lifshitz pseudotensor is constructed so that when added to the stress-energy tensor of matter, , its total 4-divergence vanishes: . This follows from the cancellation of the Einstein tensor, , with the stress-energy tensor, by the Einstein field equations; the remaining term vanishes algebraically due the commutativity of partial derivatives applied across antisymmetric indices.
The Landau-Lifshitz pseudotensor appears to include second derivative terms in the metric, but in fact the explicit second derivative terms in the pseudotensor cancel with the implicit second derivative terms contained within the Einstein tensor, . This is more evident when the pseudotensor is directly expressed in terms of the metric tensor or the Levi-Civita connection; only the first derivative terms in the metric survive and these vanish where the frame is locally inertial at any chosen point. As a result, the entire pseudotensor vanishes locally (again, at any chosen point) , which demonstrates the delocalisation of gravitational energy-momentum.
Clearly this pseudotensor for gravitational stress-energy is constructed exclusively from the metric tensor and its first derivatives. Consequently, it vanishes at any event when the coordinate system is chosen to make the first derivatives of the metric vanish because each term in the pseudotensor is quadratic in the first derivatives of the metric. However it is not symmetric, and is therefore not suitable as a basis for defining the angular momentum.