T. Harko, **F. S. N. Lobo**

**Abstract**

Einstein’s General Relativity (GR) is possibly one of the greatest intellectual achievements ever conceived by the human mind. In fact, over the last century, GR has proven to be an extremely successful theory, with a well established experimental footing, at least for weak gravitational fields. Its predictions range from the existence of black holes and gravitational radiation (now confirmed) to the cosmological models. Indeed, a central theme in modern Cosmology is the perplexing fact that the Universe is undergoing an accelerating expansion, which represents a new imbalance in the governing gravitational equations. The cause of the late-time cosmic acceleration remains an open and tantalizing question, and has forced theorists and experimentalists to question whether GR is the correct relativistic theory of gravitation. This has spurred much research in modified theories of gravity, where extensions of the Hilbert–Einstein action describe the gravitational field, in particular, f(R) gravity, where R is the curvature scalar. In this review, we perform a detailed theoretical and phenomenological analysis of specific modified theories of gravity and investigate their astrophysical and cosmological applications. We present essentially two largely explored extensions of f(R) gravity, namely: (i) the hybrid metric-Palatini theory; (ii) and modified gravity with curvature-matter couplings. Relative to the former, it has been established that both metric and Palatini versions of f(R) gravity possess interesting features but also manifest severe drawbacks. A hybrid combination, containing elements from both of these formalisms, turns out to be very successful in accounting for the observed phenomenology and avoids some drawbacks of the original approaches. Relative to the curvature-matter coupling theories, these offer interesting extensions of f(R) gravity, where the explicit nonminimal couplings between an arbitrary function of the scalar curvature R and the Lagrangian density of matter, induces a nonvanishing covariant derivative of the energy-momentum tensor, which implies nongeodesic motion and consequently leads to the appearance of an extra force. We extensively explore both theories in a plethora of applications, namely, the weak-field limit, galactic and extragalactic dynamics, cosmology, stellar-type compact objects, irreversible matter creation processes and the quantum cosmology of a specific curvature-matter coupling theory.

**Keywords**

Modified gravity; curvature-matter couplings; hybrid metric-Palatini gravity; General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology; Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics; High Energy Physics - Theory

**International Journal of Modern Physics D**

Volume 29, Number 13

2020 September