It is commonly believed that the ringdown signal from a binary coalescence provides a conclusive proof for the formation of an event horizon after the merger. This expectation is based on the assumption that the ringdown waveform at intermediate times is dominated by the quasinormal modes of the final object. We point out that this assumption should be taken with great care, and that basically any compact object with a light ring will display a similar ringdown stage, even when its quasinormal-mode spectrum is completely different from that of a black hole. In other words, universal ringdown waveforms indicate the presence of light rings, rather than of horizons. Only precision observations of the late-time ringdown signal, where the differences in the quasinormal-mode spectrum eventually show up, can be used to rule out exotic alternatives to black holes and to test quantum effects at the horizon scale.
V. Cardoso, E. Franzin and P. Pani
Thu, 25 Feb 16
Comments: 5 pages, 4 figures