Most of these systems are either dynamical or were formed in catastrophic events; many are or were, therefore, strong sources of gravitational radiation. As the 21st century opens, we are on the threshold of using this radiation to gain a new perspective on the observable universe.
The theory of gravitational radiation already makes an important contribution to the understanding of a number of astronomical systems, such as neutron star binaries, cataclysmic variables, young neutron stars, low-mass X-ray binaries, and even the anisotropy of the microwave background radiation. As the understanding of relativistic phenomena improves, it can be expected that gravitational radiation will play a crucial role as a theoretical tool in modeling relativistic astrophysical systems.
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