Going NUTs

By Paul I. Jefremov and Volker Perlick.

Among all known solutions to Einstein’s vacuum field equation the (Taub-)NUT metric is a particularly intriguing one. It is that metric that owing to its counter-intuitive features was once called by Charles Misner “a counter-example to almost anything”. In what follows we give a brief introduction to the NUT black holes, discuss what makes them interesting for a researcher and speculate on how they could be detected should they exist in nature.

paul jefremov-and-volker

Volker Perlick and Pavel (Paul) Ionovič Jefremov from the Gravitational Theory group at the University of Bremen in Germany. Volker is a Privatdozent and his research interests are in classical relativity, (standard and non-standard) electrodynamics and Finsler geometry. He is an amateur astronomer and plays the piano with great enthusiasm and poor skills. Paul got his diploma in Physics at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI in Moscow, 2014. Now he is a PhD Student in the Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate IRAP Programme at the University of Bremen. Beyond the scientific topics in physics his interests include philosophy in general, philosophy of science, Eastern and ancient philosophy, religion, political and social theories and last but not the least organic farming.

The NUT (Newman–Unti–Tamburino) metric was obtained by Newman, Unti and Tamburino (hence its name) in 1963. It describes a black hole which, in addition to the mass parameter (gravito-electric charge) known from the Schwarzschild solution, depends on a “gravito-magnetic charge”, also known as NUT parameter. If the NUT metric is analytically extended, on the other side of the horizon it becomes isometric to a vacuum solution of Einstein’s field equations found by Abraham Taub already in 1951. However, for an observer who is prudent enough to stay outside the black hole, the Taub part is irrelevant.

At first sight, the existence of the NUT metric seems to violate the uniqueness (“no-hair”) theorem of black holes according to which a non-spinning uncharged black hole is uniquely characterised by its mass. Actually, there is no contradiction because Continue reading

And now for something completely different…

Nils Andersson

Nils Andersson is Head of the Southampton University Gravity group. He is mainly focussed on problems involving the modelling of neutron stars and understanding various related astrophysical phenomena, from pulsar glitches to magnetar giant flares. Away from the office, he writes science-inspired books for kids and occasionally blows his own trumpet in public.

Each and every trade has its favourite tools, some more powerful than others. A plumber would not get by without a good wrench, a carpenter needs a hammer, a mechanic a screwdriver and so on. Theoretical physicists prefer action principles.

This preference is natural given that many of the phenomena we are interested in are associated with deviations from some minimum energy equilibrium state. It is well known that, once you understand a problem from the variational point-of-view, you have a very powerful tool at your hands. However, it is also generally accepted that this approach is restricted to conservative systems.

Our recent paper in Classical and Quantum Gravity challenges this consensus view. Working in the framework of classical general relativity (no extra dimensions and fancy stuff here!), we develop Continue reading