Visualizing spacetime curvature via frame-drag vortexes and tidal tendexes. II. Stationary black holes


When one splits spacetime into space plus time, the Weyl curvature tensor (which equals the Riemann tensor in vacuum) splits into two spatial, symmetric, traceless tensors: the tidal field E, which produces tidal forces, and the frame-drag field B, which produces differential frame dragging. In recent papers, we and colleagues have introduced ways to visualize these two fields: tidal tendex lines (integral curves of the three eigenvector fields of E) and their tendicities (eigenvalues of these eigenvector fields); and the corresponding entities for the frame-drag field: frame-drag vortex lines and their vorticities. These entities fully characterize the vacuum Riemann tensor. In this paper, we compute and depict the tendex and vortex lines, and their tendicities and vorticities, outside the horizons of stationary (Schwarzschild and Kerr) black holes; and we introduce and depict the black holes’ horizon tendicity and vorticity (the normal-normal components of E and B on the horizon). For Schwarzschild and Kerr black holes, the horizon tendicity is proportional to the horizon’s intrinsic scalar curvature, and the horizon vorticity is proportional to an extrinsic scalar curvature. We show that, for horizon-penetrating time slices, all these entities (E, B, the tendex lines and vortex lines, the lines’ tendicities and vorticities, and the horizon tendicities and vorticities) are affected only weakly by changes of slicing and changes of spatial coordinates, within those slicing and coordinate choices that are commonly used for black holes. We also explore how the tendex and vortex lines change as the spin of a black hole is increased, and we find, for example, that as a black hole is spun up through a dimensionless spin a/M=3√/2, the horizon tendicity at its poles changes sign, and an observer hovering or falling inward there switches from being stretched radially to being squeezed. At this spin, the tendex lines that stick out from the horizon’s poles switch from reaching radially outward toward infinity to emerging from one pole, swinging poloidally around the hole and descending into the other pole.


American Physical Society

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Physical Review D


Physics and Astronomy

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