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Quasinormal-mode spectrum of Kerr black holes and its geometric interpretation

By Huan Yang, David A. Nichols, Fan Zhang, Aaron Zimmerman, Zhongyang Zhang and Yanbei Chen


There is a well-known, intuitive geometric correspondence between high-frequency quasinormal modes of Schwarzschild black holes and null geodesics that reside on the light ring (often called spherical photon orbits): the real part of the mode’s frequency relates to the geodesic’s orbital frequency, and the imaginary part of the frequency corresponds to the Lyapunov exponent of the orbit. For slowly rotating black holes, the quasinormal mode’s real frequency is a linear combination of the orbit’s precessional and orbital frequencies, but the correspondence is otherwise unchanged. In this paper, we find a relationship between the quasinormal-mode frequencies of Kerr black holes of arbitrary (astrophysical) spins and general spherical photon orbits, which is analogous to the relationship for slowly rotating holes. To derive this result, we first use the Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin approximation to compute accurate algebraic expressions for large-l quasinormal-mode frequencies. Comparing our Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin calculation to the leading-order, geometric-optics approximation to scalar-wave propagation in the Kerr spacetime, we then draw a correspondence between the real parts of the parameters of a quasinormal mode and the conserved quantities of spherical photon orbits. At next-to-leading order in this comparison, we relate the imaginary parts of the quasinormal-mode parameters to coefficients that modify the amplitude of the scalar wave. With this correspondence, we find a geometric interpretation of two features of the quasinormal-mode spectrum of Kerr black holes: First, for Kerr holes rotating near the maximal rate, a large number of modes have nearly zero damping; we connect this characteristic to the fact that a large number of spherical photon orbits approach the horizon in this limit. Second, for black holes of any spins, the frequencies of specific sets of modes are degenerate; we find that this feature arises when the spherical photon orbits corresponding to these modes form closed (as opposed to ergodically winding) curves

Publisher: American Physical Society
Year: 2012
OAI identifier: oai:authors.library.caltech.edu:35752
Provided by: Caltech Authors

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