New approaches to higher-dimensional general relativity

Durkee, Mark N. (2011-06-07)


This thesis considers various aspects of general relativity in more than four spacetime dimensions. Firstly, I review the generalization to higher dimensions of the algebraic classification of the Weyl tensor and the Newman-Penrose formalism. In four dimensions, these techniques have proved useful for studying many aspects of general relativity, and it is hoped that their higher dimensional generalizations will prove equally useful in the future. Unfortunately, many calculations using the Newman-Penrose formalism can be unnecessarily complicated. To address this, I describe new work introducing a higher-dimensional generalization of the so-called Geroch-Held-Penrose formalism, which allows for a partially covariant reformulation of general relativity. This approach provides great simplifications for many calculations involving spacetimes which admit one or two preferred null directions. The next chapter describes the proof of an important result regarding algebraic classification in higher dimensions. The classification is based upon the existence of a particular null direction that is aligned with the Weyl tensor of the geometry in some appropriate sense. In four dimensions, it is known that a null vector field is such a multiple Weyl aligned null direction (WAND) if and only if it is tangent to a shearfree null geodesic congruence. This is not the case in higher dimensions. However, I have formulated and proved a partial generalization of the result to arbitrary dimension, namely that a spacetime admits a multiple WAND if and only if it admits a geodesic multiple WAND. Moving onto more physical applications, I describe how the formalism that we have developed can be applied to study certain aspects of the stability of extremal black holes in arbitrary dimension. The final chapter of the thesis has a rather different flavour. I give a detailed analysis of the properties of a particular solution to the Einstein equations in five dimensions: the Pomeransky-Sen'kov doubly spinning black ring. I study geodesic motion around this black ring and demonstrate the separability of the Hamilton-Jacobi equation for null, zero energy geodesics. I show that this unexpected separability can be understood in terms of a symmetry described by a conformal Killing tensor on a four dimensional spacetime obtained by a Kaluza-Klein reduction of the original black ring spacetime.