High-accuracy modeling of extreme mass ratio inspirals with effective field theory

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The upcoming launch of the space-based gravitational wave interferometer detector LISA will yield an unprecedented amount of astrophysical and cosmological science from a variety of gravitational wave sources. Among these, the extreme mass ratio inspirals (EMRIs) of stellar-mass compact objects into supermassive black holes will provide a unique opportunity to test the predictions of General Relativity for strongly gravitating systems since the masses and spins of these sources are expected to be measured with precisions better than about 1 part in 10^4. Such highly precise measurements require modeling the dynamics of EMRIs and their gravitational waves with high accuracy. In this talk, I discuss using methods of effective field theory (EFT) to accomplish this. Since EMRIs lose energy to gravitational waves, I introduce an open systems framework that proves to be a necessary ingredient to correctly describe EMRIs within the EFT formalism. I will discuss my recent derivation of the equations of motion and waveforms through third order in the mass ratio for a class of nonlinear scalar models that are analogous to the perturbative General Relativistic description of EMRIs. Time permitting, I will also discuss new results that are non-perturbative in the mass ratio in this model.