General Relativity: Motion in Black Hole Spacetimes
When it comes to black holes there is still a lot we have to learn. But, one thing that we understand well is how things move around black holes. My project focuses on simulating the kinematics and orbital mechanics of bodies near black holes, particularly the motion near stationary and rotating black holes. To describe this motion with any degree of accuracy, I had to first learn the language of general relativity with the help of Dr. Alexandra Miller. The major differences between Newtonian gravity and Einsteinian gravity lead to a real abundance of interesting phenomena to investigate. Notably there is the precession of orbits near large bodies, which was used as a first major test for General Relativity in our own solar system with the orbit of Mercury. There’s also gravitational time dilation, the bending of light due to gravity, the stable orbits of photons near a black hole, and even the possibility of wormholes. Using numerical methods with the help of Mathematica and Matlab, I simulated some of these occurrences near these strangest bodies in the universe, black holes. These simulations are necessary for those working in the area of astronomy. Especially when dealing with accurately modeling the orbit of celestial bodies or even finding the next black hole candidate.
The reason why I chose this project and the area of general relativity in the first place was partly as a learning opportunity for myself and partly as an opportunity to model some of the strangest behaviors that we see in the Capstone Research: General Relativity: Motion in Black Hole Spacetimes By Joseph McGuire observable universe. As a mathematician, part physicist, the area of general relativity offers a beautiful intersection between the two areas. The pure abstract language of mathematics is employed to tell us how the geometry of the universe dictates motion. As someone who loves to work in the intersection between different fields, this project has been immensely enriching.