Aspects of higher dimensional Einstein theory and M-theory
This thesis contains two main themes. The first is Einstein's theory of general relativity in higher dimensions, while the second is M-theory. The first part of the thesis concerns the use of classification techniques based on the Weyl curvature in an attempt to systematically study higher dimensional general relativity and its solutions. After a review of the various classification schemes, the application of these schemes to the study of higher dimensional solutions is explained. The first application of the tensor approach that is discussed is the systematic classification of higher dimensional axisymmetric solutions. A complete classification of all algebraically special axisymmetric solutions to the vacuum Einstein equation in higher dimensions is presented. Next, the study of perturbations of higher dimensional solutions within this framework and the possibility of decoupling equations for black hole solutions of interest, as has been successfully done in four dimensions, is considered. In the case where such a decoupling of the perturbations is possible, a map for constructing solutions of the perturbation equation is presented and is applied to the Kerr/CFT correspondence. Also, the property of gravitational radiation emitted from an isolated source in higher dimensions is considered and the tensor classification scheme is used to derive the peeling property of the Weyl tensor in higher dimensions. This is shown to be different to that which occurs in four dimensions. Finally, after an in-depth exposition of the spinor classification scheme and its relation to the tensor approach, solutions belonging to the most special type in the spinor classification are classified. In addition, the classification of the black ring in this scheme is discussed. The second part of the thesis explores the use of generalised geometry as a tool for better understanding M-theory. After briefly reviewing the curious phenomenon of M-theory dualities, it is explained how generalised geometry can be used to show that these symmetries are not exclusive to compactifications of the theory, but can be made manifest without recourse to compactification. Finally, results regarding the local symmetries of M-theory in the generalised geometry framework for a particular symmetry group are presented.