[0911.1756] Spacetime and orbits of bumpy black holes

Authors: Sarah J. Vigeland, Scott A. Hughes

Date: 9 Nov 2009

Abstract: Our universe contains a great number of extremely compact and massive objects which are generally accepted to be black holes. Precise observations of orbital motion near candidate black holes have the potential to determine if they have the spacetime structure that general relativity demands. As a means of formulating measurements to test the black hole nature of these objects, Collins and Hughes introduced "bumpy black holes": objects that are almost, but not quite, general relativity's black holes. The spacetimes of these objects have multipoles that deviate slightly from the black hole solution, reducing to black holes when the deviation is zero. In this paper, we extend this work in two ways. First, we show how to introduce bumps which are smoother and lead to better behaved orbits than those in the original presentation. Second, we show how to make bumpy Kerr black holes -- objects which reduce to the Kerr solution when the deviation goes to zero. This greatly extends the astrophysical applicability of bumpy black holes. Using Hamilton-Jacobi techniques, we show how a spacetime's bumps are imprinted on orbital frequencies, and thus can be determined by measurements which coherently track a small orbiting body's orbital phase. We find that weak-field orbits of bumpy black holes are modified exactly as expected from a Newtonian analysis of a body with a prescribed multipolar structure, reproducing well-known results from the celestial mechanics literature. The impact of bumps on strong-field orbits is especially strong, suggesting that this framework will allow observations to set robust limits on the extent to which a spacetime's multipoles deviate from the black hole expectation.

abs pdf

Nov 17, 2009

0911.1756 (/preprints)
2009-11-17, 11:43 [edit]

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