Resolving the photon ring

04/13/2023 9:30 am - 10:30 am
CMSA Room G10
Address: CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

General Relativity Seminar

Speaker: Shahar Hadar (University of Haifa)

Title: Resolving the photon ring

Abstract: In the past few years, the Event Horizon Telescope has released the first close-up interferometric images of two supermassive black holes, M87* and SgrA*. It is believed that within these images is embedded a fine, yet-unresolved brightness enhancement called the photon ring. The ring is a universal consequence of strong lensing by the black hole and thereby conveys information on its spacetime geometry, potentially providing a new independent avenue for tests of general relativity in the strong-field regime. In the talk I will briefly review the theory of the photon ring and its corresponding spacetime region, the photon shell, which governs the universal lensing structure. I will then describe some current efforts and future prospects for resolving the ring, which include both the construction of transformative new instruments and the development of novel analysis methods. Focusing on the latter, I will present an upcoming proposal to use spectro-temporal autocorrelations in signals emitted from black hole environs as a probe of strong lensing effects.