Spacetime Whirlpools

Lisa May Walker

2007

Two Programs were created to visualize the effect of rotating (Kerr) black holes on their surrounding spacetime. The first program, Photon Orbits, numerically integrates the null geodesics of Kerr spacetime and displays the trajectories of light rays in an interactive 3D environment. The second program, Camera, numerically integrates the null geodesics and determines the distortion of both natural and abstract background images. These programs provide visual evidence for Einstein rings, frame dragging, and the warping of spacetime near a black hole. In addition, they demonstrate that the distortion caused by a Kerr black hole is dependent on the angle of its spin axis with respect to the source.