Binary black hole shadows, chaotic scattering and the Cantor set [CL]

We investigate the qualitative features of binary black hole shadows using the model of two extremally charged black holes in static equilibrium (a Majumdar–Papapetrou solution). Our perspective is that binary spacetimes are natural exemplars of chaotic scattering, because they admit more than one fundamental null orbit, and thus an uncountably-infinite set of perpetual null orbits which generate scattering singularities in initial data. Inspired by the three-disc model, we develop an appropriate symbolic dynamics to describe planar null geodesics on the double black hole spacetime. We show that a one-dimensional (1D) black hole shadow may constructed through an iterative procedure akin to the construction of the Cantor set; thus the 1D shadow is self-similar. Next, we study non-planar rays, to understand how angular momentum affects the existence and properties of the fundamental null orbits. Taking slices through 2D shadows, we observe three types of 1D shadow: regular, Cantor-like, and highly chaotic. The switch from Cantor-like to regular occurs where outer fundamental orbits are forbidden by angular momentum. The highly chaotic part is associated with an unexpected feature: stable and bounded null orbits, which exist around two black holes of equal mass $M$ separated by $a_1 < a < \sqrt{2} a_1$, where $a_1 = 4M/\sqrt{27}$. To show how this possibility arises, we define a certain potential function and classify its stationary points. We conjecture that the highly chaotic parts of the 2D shadow possess the Wada property. Finally, we consider the possibility of following null geodesics through event horizons, and chaos in the maximally-extended spacetime.

Read this paper on arXiv…

J. Shipley and S. Dolan
Mon, 4 Apr 16

Comments: 35 pages, 20 figures