Testing the no-hair theorem with observations in the electromagnetic spectrum. I. Properties of a Quasi-Kerr spacetime

Tim Johannsen, Dimitrios Psaltis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations

Abstract

According to the no-hair theorem, an astrophysical black hole is uniquely described by only two quantities, the mass and the spin. In this series of papers, we investigate a framework for testing the no-hair theorem with observations of black holes in the electromagnetic spectrum. We formulate our approach in terms of a parametric spacetime which contains a quadrupole moment that is independent of both mass and spin. If the no-hair theorem is correct, then any deviation of the black hole quadrupole moment from its Kerr value has to be zero. We analyze in detail the properties of this quasi-Kerr spacetime that are critical to interpreting observations of black holes and demonstrate their dependence on the spin and quadrupole moment. In particular, we show that the location of the innermost stable circular orbit and the gravitational lensing experienced by photons are affected significantly at even modest deviations of the quadrupole moment from the value predicted by the no-hair theorem. We argue that observations of black hole images, of relativistically broadened iron lines, as well as of thermal X-ray spectra from accreting black holes will lead in the near future to an experimental test of the no-hair theorem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-197
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume716
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Black hole physics
  • Gravitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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