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Multipole moments in general relativity and dynamical perturbations of black-hole magnetospheres


Zhang, Xiao-He (1990) Multipole moments in general relativity and dynamical perturbations of black-hole magnetospheres. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology.


This thesis consists of two parts. In Part I, we develop a multipole moment formalism in general relativity and use it to analyze the motion and precession of compact bodies. More specifically, the generic, vacuum, dynamical gravitational field of the exterior universe in the vicinity of a freely moving body is expanded in positive powers of the distance r away from the body's spatial origin (i.e., in the distance r from its timelike-geodesic world line). The expansion coefficients, called "external multipole moments,'' are defined covariantly in terms of the Riemann curvature tensor and its spatial derivatives evaluated on the body's central world line. In a carefully chosen class of de Donder coordinates, the expansion of the external field involves only integral powers of r ; no logarithmic terms occur. The expansion is used to derive higher-order corrections to previously known laws of motion and precession for black holes and other bodies. The resulting laws of motion and precession are expressed in terms of couplings of the time derivatives of the body's quadrupole and octopole moments to the external moments, i.e., to the external curvature and its gradient.

In part II, we study the interaction of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) waves in a black-hole magnetosphere with the "dragging of inertial frames" effect of the hole's rotation - i.e., with the hole's "gravitomagnetic field." More specifically: we first rewrite the laws of perfect general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics (GRMHD) in 3+1 language in a general spacetime, in terms of quantities (magnetic field, flow velocity, ...) that would be measured by the ''fiducial observers” whose world lines are orthogonal to (arbitrarily chosen) hypersurfaces of constant time. We then specialize to a stationary spacetime and MHD flow with one arbitrary spatial symmetry (e.g., the stationary magnetosphere of a Kerr black hole); and for this spacetime we reduce the GRMHD equations to a set of algebraic equations. The general features of the resulting stationary, symmetric GRMHD magnetospheric solutions are discussed, including the Blandford-Znajek effect in which the gravitomagnetic field interacts with the magnetosphere to produce an outflowing jet. Then in a specific model spacetime with two spatial symmetries, which captures the key features of the Kerr geometry, we derive the GRMHD equations which govern weak, linealized perturbations of a stationary magnetosphere with outflowing jet. These perturbation equations are then Fourier analyzed in time t and in the symmetry coordinate x, and subsequently solved numerically. The numerical solutions describe the interaction of MHD waves with the gravitomagnetic field. It is found that, among other features, when an oscillatory external force is applied to the region of the magnetosphere where plasma (e+e-) is being created, the magnetosphere responds especially strongly at a particular, resonant, driving frequency. The resonant frequency is that for which the perturbations appear to be stationary (time independent) in the common rest frame of the freshly created plasma and the rotating magnetic field lines. The magnetosphere of a rotating black hole, when buffeted by nonaxisymmetric magnetic fields anchored in a surrounding accretion disk, might exhibit an analogous resonance. If so then the hole's outflowing jet might be modulated at resonant frequencies ω=(m/2) ΩH where m is an integer and ΩH is the hole's angular velocity.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Physics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Thorne, Kip S.
Group:TAPIR, Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:13 June 1989
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:03172015-154851912
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8780
Deposited By: Bianca Rios
Deposited On:18 Mar 2015 14:38
Last Modified:02 Dec 2020 02:02

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