Geodesic stability, Lyapunov exponents and quasinormal modes

Research paper by Vitor Cardoso, Alex S. Miranda, Emanuele Berti, Helvi Witek, Vilson T. Zanchin

Indexed on: 11 Mar '09Published on: 11 Mar '09Published in: High Energy Physics - Theory


Geodesic motion determines important features of spacetimes. Null unstable geodesics are closely related to the appearance of compact objects to external observers and have been associated with the characteristic modes of black holes. By computing the Lyapunov exponent, which is the inverse of the instability timescale associated with this geodesic motion, we show that, in the eikonal limit, quasinormal modes of black holes in any dimensions are determined by the parameters of the circular null geodesics. This result is independent of the field equations and only assumes a stationary, spherically symmetric and asymptotically flat line element, but it does not seem to be easily extendable to anti-de Sitter spacetimes. We further show that (i) in spacetime dimensions greater than four, equatorial circular timelike geodesics in a Myers-Perry black hole background are unstable, and (ii) the instability timescale of equatorial null geodesics in Myers-Perry spacetimes has a local minimum for spacetimes of dimension d > 5.