General Relativity 2021–22

During the 2021–22 academic year, the CMSA will be hosting a seminar on General Relativity, organized by Aghil Alaee, Jue Liu, Daniel Kapec, and Puskar Mondal. This seminar will take place on Thursdays at 9:30am – 10:30am (Eastern time). The meetings will take place virtually on Zoom. To learn how to attend, please fill out this form.

The schedule below will be updated as talks are confirmed.


(10:30am – 11:30am (Boston time)
Philippe G. LeFloch, Sorbonne University and CNRSTitle: Asymptotic localization, massive fields, and gravitational singularities

Abstract: I will review three recent developments on Einstein’s field equations under low decay or low regularity conditions. First, the Seed-to-Solution Method for Einstein’s constraint equations, introduced in collaboration with T.-C. Nguyen generates asymptotically Euclidean manifolds with the weakest or strongest possible decay (infinite ADM mass, Schwarzschild decay, etc.). The ‘asymptotic localization problem’ is also proposed an alternative to the ‘optimal localization problem’ by Carlotto and Schoen. We solve this new problem at the harmonic level of decay. Second, the Euclidian-Hyperboloidal Foliation Method, introduced in collaboration with Yue Ma, applies to nonlinear wave systems which need not be asymptotically invariant under Minkowski’s scaling field and to solutions with low decay in space. We established the global nonlinear stability of self-gravitating massive matter field in the regime near Minkowski spacetime. Third, in collaboration with Bruno Le Floch and Gabriele Veneziano, I studied spacetimes in the vicinity of singularity hypersurfaces and constructed bouncing cosmological spacetimes of big bang-big crunch type. The notion of singularity scattering map provides a flexible tool for formulating junction conditions and, by analyzing Einstein’s constraint equations, we established a surprising classification of all gravitational bouncing laws. Blog:

(10:30am – 11:30am (Boston time)
Igor Rodnianski, Princeton UniversityTitle: Stable Big Bang formation for the Einstein equations

Abstract: I will discuss recent work concerning stability of cosmological singularities described by the generalized Kasner solutions. There are heuristics in the mathematical physics literature, going back more than 50 years, suggesting that the Big Bang formation should be stable under perturbations of the Kasner initial data, as long as the Kasner exponents are “sub-critical”. We prove that the Kasner singularity is dynamically stable for all sub-critical Kasner exponents, thereby justifying the heuristics in the full regime where stable monotonic-type curvature blowup is expected. We treat the 3+1-dimensional Einstein-scalar field system and the D+1-dimensional Einstein-vacuum equations for D≥10. This is joint work with Speck and Fournodavlos.

(10:30am – 11:30am (Boston time)
Alex LupsascaTitle: On the Observable Shape of Black Hole Photon Rings

Abstract: The photon ring is a narrow ring-shaped feature, predicted by General Relativity but not yet observed, that appears on images of sources near a black hole. It is caused by extreme bending of light within a few Schwarzschild radii of the event horizon and provides a direct probe of the unstable bound photon orbits of the Kerr geometry. I will argue that the precise shape of the observable photon ring is remarkably insensitive to the astronomical source profile and can therefore be used as a stringent test of strong-field General Relativity. In practice, near-term interferometric observations may be limited to the visibility amplitude alone, which contains incomplete shape information: for convex curves, the amplitude only encodes the set of projected diameters (or “widths”) of the shape. I will describe the freedom in reconstructing a convex curve from its widths, giving insight into the photon ring shape information probed by technically plausible future astronomical measurements.

(10:30am – 11:30am (Boston time)
Zhongshan An, University of ConnecticutTitle: Static vacuum extensions of Bartnik boundary data near flat domains

Abstract: The study of static vacuum Riemannian metrics arises naturally in differential geometry and general relativity. It plays an important role in scalar curvature deformation, as well as in constructing Einstein spacetimes.  Existence of static vacuum Riemannian metrics with prescribed Bartnik data is one of the most fundamental problems in Riemannian geometry related to general relativity. It is also a very interesting problem on the global solvability of a natural geometric boundary value problem. In this talk I will first discuss some basic properties of the nonlinear and linearized static vacuum equations and the geometric boundary conditions. Then I will present some recent progress towards the existence problem of static vacuum metrics based on a joint work with Lan-Hsuan Huang.

(10:30am – 11:30am (Boston time)
Xiaoning Wu, Chinese Academy of SciencesTitle: Causality Comparison and Postive Mass

Abstract: Penrose et al. investigated the physical incoherence of the space-time with negative mass via the bending of light. Precise estimates of the time-delay of null geodesics were needed and played a pivotal role in their proof. In this paper, we construct an intermediate diagonal metric and reduce this problem to a causality comparison in the compactified space-time regarding time-like connectedness near conformal infinities. This different approach allows us to avoid encountering the difficulties and subtle issues that Penrose et al. met. It provides a new, substantially simple, and physically natural non-partial differential equation viewpoint to understand the positive mass theorem. This elementary argument modestly applies to asymptotically flat solutions that are vacuum and stationary near infinity

(10:30am – 11:30am (Boston time)
Jiong-Yue Li, Sun Yat-Sen UniversityTitle: Peeling properties of the spinor fields and the solutions to nonlinear Dirac equations

Abstract: The Dirac equation is a relativistic equation that describes the spin-1/2 particles.  We talk about Dirac equations in Minkowski spacetime. In a geometric viewpoint, we can see that the spinor fields satisfying the Dirac equations enjoy the so-called peeling properties. It means the null components of the solution will decay at different rates along the null hypersurface. Based on this decay mechanism, we can obtain a fresh insight to the spinor null forms which is used to prove a small data global existence result especially for some quadratic Dirac models.

(11:00am – 12:30pm (Boston time)
Roberto Emparan, University of BarcelonaTitle: The Large D Limit of Einstein’s Equations

Abstract: Taking the large dimension limit of Einstein’s equations is a useful strategy for solving and understanding the dynamics that these equations encode. I will introduce the underlying ideas and the progress that has resulted in recent years from this line of research. Most of the discussion will be classical in nature and will concern situations where there is a black hole horizon. A main highlight of this approach is the formulation of effective membrane theories of black hole dynamics. These have made possible to efficiently study, with relatively simple techniques, some of the thorniest problems in black hole physics, such as the non-linear evolution of the instabilities of black strings and black branes, and the collisions and mergers of higher-dimensional black holes. Open directions and opportunities will also be discussed. To get a flavor of what this is about, you may read the first few pages of the review (with C.P. Herzog) e-Print: 2003.11394.
10/28/2021Jorge Santos, University of CambridgeTitle: The classical interior of charged black holes with AdS asymptotics

Abstract: The gravitational dual to the grand canonical ensemble of a large N holographic theory is a charged black hole. These spacetimes can have Cauchy horizons that render the classical gravitational dynamics of the black hole interior incomplete. We show that a (spatially uniform) deformation of the CFT by a neutral scalar operator generically leads to a black hole with no inner horizon. There is instead a spacelike Kasner singularity in the interior. For relevant deformations, Cauchy horizons never form. We then consider charged scalars, which are known to condense at low temperatures, thus providing a holographic realization of superconductivity. We look inside the horizon of these holographic superconductors and find intricate dynamical behavior.  The spacetime ends at a spacelike Kasner singularity, and there is no Cauchy horizon. Before reaching the singularity, there are several intermediate regimes which we study both analytically and numerically. These include strong Josephson oscillations in the condensate and possible `Kasner inversions’ in which after many e-folds of expansion, the Einstein-Rosen bridge contracts towards the singularity.  Due to the Josephson oscillations, the number of Kasner inversions depends very sensitively on temperature, and diverges at a discrete set of temperatures that accumulate at the critical temperature. Near this discrete set of temperatures, the final Kasner exponent exhibits fractal-like behavior.
at 10 am ET
Elena Giorgi, Columbia UniversityTitle: The stability of charged black holes

Abstract: Black holes solutions in General Relativity are parametrized by their mass, spin and charge. In this talk, I will motivate why the charge of black holes adds interesting dynamics to solutions of the Einstein equation thanks to the interaction between gravitational and electromagnetic radiation. Such radiations are solutions of a system of coupled wave equations with a symmetric structure which allows to define a combined energy-momentum tensor for the system. Finally, I will show how this physical-space approach is resolutive in the most general case of Kerr-Newman black hole, where the interaction between the radiations prevents the separability in modes. 

*9:30 am ET*
Siyuan Ma, Sorbonne UniversityTitle: Sharp decay for Teukolsky equation in Kerr spacetimes

Abstract: Teukolsky equation in Kerr spacetimes governs the dynamics of the spin $s$ components, $s=0, \pm 1, \pm 2$ corresponding to the scalar field, the Maxwell field, and the linearized gravity, respectively. I will discuss recent joint work with L. Zhang on proving the precise asymptotic profiles for these spin $s$ components in Schwarzschild and Kerr spacetimes.

(10:30–11:30 am ET)
Nishanth Gudapati, Clark UniversityTitle: On Curvature Propagation and ‘Breakdown’ of the Einstein Equations on U(1) Symmetric Spacetimes

Abstract: The analysis of global structure of the Einstein equations for general relativity, in the context of the initial value problem, is a difficult and intricate mathematical subject. Any additional structure in their formulation is welcome, in order to alleviate the problem.  It is expected that the initial value problem of the Einstein equations on spacetimes admitting a translational, fixed-point free, spatial U(1) isometry group are globally well-posed. In our previous works, we discussed the special structure provided by the dimensional reduction of 3+1 dimensional U(1) symmetric Einstein equations to 2+1 Einstein-wave map system and demonstrated global existence in the equivariant case for large data.  In this talk, after discussing some preliminaries and background, we shall discuss about yet another structure of the U(1) symmetric Einstein equations, namely the analogy with Yang-Mills theory via the Cartan formalism and reconcile with the dimensionally reduced field equations. We shall also discuss implications for ‘breakdown’ criteria of U(1) symmetric Einstein equations.
12/2/2021Professor Geoffrey Comp
ére, Université Libre de Bruxelles 
Title: Kerr Geodesics and Self-consistent match between Inspiral and Transition-to-merger

Abstract: The two-body motion in General Relativity can be solved perturbatively in the small mass ratio expansion. Kerr geodesics describe the leading order motion. After a short summary of the classification of polar and radial Kerr geodesic motion, I will consider the inspiral motion of a point particle around the Kerr black hole subjected to the self-force. I will describe its quasi-circular inspiral motion in the radiation timescale expansion. I will describe in parallel the transition-to-merger motion around the last stable circular orbit and prove that it is controlled by the Painlevé transcendental equation of the first kind. I will then prove that one can consistently match the two motions using the method of asymptotically matched expansions.
12/16/2021Xinliang An, University of SingaporeTitle: Low regularity ill-posedness for 3D elastic waves and for 3D ideal compressible MHD driven by shock formation

Abstract: We construct counterexamples to the local existence of low-regularity solutions to elastic wave equations and to the ideal compressible magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) system in three spatial dimensions (3D). Inspired by the recent works of Christodoulou, we generalize Lindblad’s classic results on the scalar wave equation by showing that the Cauchy problems for 3D elastic waves and for 3D MHD system are ill-posed in $H^3(R^3)$ and $H^2(R^3)$, respectively. Both elastic waves and MHD are physical systems with multiple wave speeds.  We further prove that the ill-posedness is caused by instantaneous shock formation, which is characterized by the vanishing of the inverse foliation density. In particular, when the magnetic field is absent in MHD, we also provide a desired low-regularity ill-posedness result for the 3D compressible Euler equations, and it is sharp with respect to the regularity of the fluid velocity.  Our proofs for elastic waves and for MHD are based on a coalition of a carefully designed algebraic approach and a geometric approach. To trace the nonlinear interactions of various waves, we algebraically decompose the 3D elastic waves and the 3D ideal MHD equations into $6\times 6$ and $7\times 7$ non-strictly hyperbolic systems. Via detailed calculations, we reveal their hidden subtle structures. With them, we give a complete description of solutions’ dynamics up to the earliest singular event, when a shock forms. This talk is based on joint works with Haoyang Chen and Silu Yin.

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