Generic Kerr Orbit Parameters

Virtual Reality Black Hole Orbits

Two of our PhD students, Josh Mathews and Philip Lynch, recently got to show off the black hole virtual reality visualization project they’ve been working on over the summer. They’ve done a really amazing job at bringing both the orbit of a particle and the motion of light around a black hole to life using virtual reality technology and it was great to hear their demonstration received so much interest at the UCD open day.

Both students worked with me on their final year theoretical physics projects where they explored the motion of particles and photons around black holes. They both did an excellent job and with support from my Royal Society – Science Foundation Ireland grant I was able to support them working to bring their projects to the virtual world over the summer.

The motivation for me to encourage them to do this came from the beautiful videos of Steve Drasco showing the evolution of extreme mass ratio inspirals (EMRIs) due to the emission of gravitational waves. I encountered Steve’s videos early in my PhD and they really brought EMRIs to life for me. I hope we can take our new virtual reality black holes and inspire a new generation of gravitational wave scientists.

Their orbit visualization shows the motion of a test body about a rotating black hole. The banner at the top of this post shows an screenshot of their code in action. Its very impressive in the virtual world as you can control the speed of the orbit and walk around the black hole as it takes place. Going forward we have hoping to develop this into a more complete public engagement activity. Watch this space.

Looking at a virtual non-rotating black hole

Looking at the motion of a test body around a rotating black hole