Paper published in Phys. Rev. D as Editor’s suggestion

  • Geometric optics in general relativity using bilocal operators”, Michele Grasso, Mikołaj Korzyński, Julius Serbenta, Phys. Rev. D99 (2019) no.6, 064038    Editors’ suggestion
    DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.99.064038
    e-Print: arXiv:1811.10284 [gr-qc]

Abstract: We consider the standard problem of observational astronomy, i.e., the observations of light emission from a distant region of spacetime in general relativity. The goal is to describe the changes between the measurements of the light performed by a sample of observers slightly displaced with respect to each other and moving with different 4-velocities and 4-accelerations. In our approach, all results of observations can be expressed as functions of the kinematic variables, describing the motions of the observers and the emitting bodies with respect to their local inertial frames, and four linear bilocal geodesic operators, describing the influence of the spacetime geometry on light propagation. The operators are functionals of the curvature tensor along the line of sight. The results are based on the assumption that the regions of emissions and observations are sufficiently small so that the spacetime curvature effects are negligible within each of them, although they are significant for the light propagation between them. The new formulation provides a uniform approach to optical phenomena in curved spacetimes and, as an application, we discuss the problem of a fully relativistic definition of the parallax and position drifts (or proper motions). We then use the results to construct combinations of observables which are completely insensitive to the motion of both the observer and the emitter. These combinations by construction probe the spacetime geometry between the observation and emission regions and in our formalism we may express them as functionals of the Riemann tensor along the line of sight. For short distances one of these combinations depends only on the matter content along the line of sight. This opens up the possibility to measure the matter content of a spacetime in a tomographylike manner irrespective of the motions of the emitter and the observer.

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