Twisting of light around rotating black holes

Fabrizio Tamburini*, Bo Thidé, Gabriel Molina-Terriza, Gabriele Anzolin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Kerr black holes are among the most intriguing predictions of Einstein's general relativity theory1,2. These rotating massive astrophysical objects drag and intermix their surrounding space and time, deflecting and phase-modifying light emitted near them. We have found that this leads to a new relativistic effect that imprints orbital angular momentum on such light. Numerical experiments, based on the integration of the null geodesic equations of light from orbiting point-like sources in the Kerr black hole equatorial plane to an asymptotic observer3, indeed identify the phase change and wavefront warping and predict the associated light-beam orbital angular momentum spectra4. Setting up the best existing telescopes properly, it should be possible to detect and measure this twisted light, thus allowing a direct observational demonstration of the existence of rotating black holes. As non-rotating objects are more an exception than a rule in the Universe, our findings are of fundamental importance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-197
Number of pages3
JournalNature Physics
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011

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