Visualizing light cones in Schwarzschild space. (English) Zbl 1319.83003

This paper introduces a numerical tool (using MATHLAB) to study light cones in exterior Schwarzschild spacetime. The tool in its present form, is mainly for pedagogical use in general relativity classes to help students understand the causal structure of a curved spacetime such as Schwarzschild.
The paper starts with a nice review of the causal structure of Minkowski spacetime, and then discusses how one studies the causal structure of more general curved spacetimes and the utility of null geodesics. The authors then specialize to static spacetimes, and then, in particular, exterior Schwarzschild. Examples of the use of the visualization tool are described with a bit of MATHLAB code and illustrative applicable figures.
The paper ends with a discussion of the specific pedagogical uses of the program and plans for a more extensive program for light-cone visualization in other static spacetimes.


83A05 Special relativity
83C10 Equations of motion in general relativity and gravitational theory
83C57 Black holes
83-08 Computational methods for problems pertaining to relativity and gravitational theory
97M50 Physics, astronomy, technology, engineering (aspects of mathematics education)