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Testing spacetime geometry with images of supermassive compact objects: Current status and the future
January 26, 2023 @ 9:30 am - 10:30 am
General Relativity Seminar
Speaker: Prashant Kocherlakota (BHI)
Title: Testing spacetime geometry with images of supermassive compact objects: Current status and the future
Abstract: Astrophysical black holes (BHs) are expected to be described by the Kerr solution of the Einstein equations. Several frameworks have recently been developed to parametrically deform the Kerr metric in significantly different ways, to enable formulations of tests of the no-hair theorems. Testing the viability status of alternative models – such as non-Kerr BHs from general relativity, BHs from alternative theories, wormholes, and other exotic objects – as descriptors of astrophysical objects has been of longstanding interest. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) recently imaged Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the supermassive compact object at the center of the Galaxy, making such tests possible. In such tests, the shadow critical curve (or simply shadow boundary), defined on the observer’s image plane, has gained prominence as the observable of interest. We will discuss how the EHT is able to extract information regarding the shadow of Sgr A* and the status of associated tests of the spacetime geometry in the strong-field regime. Future imaging measurements expect to detect the so-called photon ring, a strong-gravitational lensing feature that appears in the close vicinity of the critical curve, which houses higher-order images of the emission source. Time permitting, we will also discuss how these can be used to set up more stringent tests of the spacetime metric and gravity in the future.