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Light Deflection Near Neutron Stars

Light Deflection Near Neutron Stars

Ute Kraus, 1998

This contribution describes and illustrates light deflection near neutron stars as an example of the significance of general relativity for astrophysics. First, a summary is given of the properties of photon orbits in the Schwarzschild metric, the Schwarzschild metric being a good approximation to the exterior metric of slowly rotating neutron stars. Secondly, it is illustrated how light deflection affects the observation of sources on the surface or close to the surface of a neutron star. Thirdly, it is illustrated that it is imperative to take light deflection into account when interpreting the pulse profiles of accreting X-ray pulsars, because the ratio of neutron star radius to Schwarzschild radius strongly affects the pulse profiles predicted from models of the pulsar's X-ray emission regions.


Photons in the Schwarzschild metric
Light Deflection Near Neutron Stars
Light Deflection in Accreting X-Ray Pulsars

In: Relativistic Astrophysics, Ruder, H., Riffert, H., Nollert, H.-P., Hehl H. (Editors), Vieweg Verlag, 1998, S. 66.

This article can be downloaded in PDF-format here:
Light Deflection Near Neutron Stars (266 kB).

More: For a series of related movies see Four-dimensional ray tracing in a curved spacetime. Close to a black hole the consequences of gravitational light deflection are even more dramatic than in the vicinity of neutron stars. This is illustrated by a virtual expedition towards the horizon of a black hole in Step by Step into a Black Hole.

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Authors: Ute Kraus, Date: 1998
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