Authors: Henric Krawczynski (Washington University in St. Louis)
Date: 31 May 2012
Abstract: Although General Relativity (GR) has been tested extensively in the weak gravity regime, similar tests in the strong gravity regime are still missing. In this paper we explore the possibility to use X-ray spectropolarimetric observations of black holes in X-ray binaries to distinguish between the Kerr metric and the phenomenological metrics introduced by Johannsen and Psaltis (2011) (which are not vacuum solutions of Einstein's equation) and thus to test the no-hair theorem of GR. To this end, we have developed a numerical code that calculates the radial brightness profiles of accretion disks and parallel transports the wave vector and polarization vector of photons through the Kerr and non-GR spacetimes. We used the code to predict the observational appearance of GR and non-GR accreting black hole systems. We find that the predicted energy spectra and energy dependent polarization degree and polarization direction do depend strongly on the underlying spacetime. However, for large regions of the parameter space, the GR and non-GR metrics lead to very similar observational signatures, making it difficult to observationally distinguish between the two types of models.
© M. Vallisneri 2012 — last modified on 2010/01/29
Tantum in modicis, quantum in maximis