Prescriptions for Measuring and Transporting Local Angular Momenta in General Relativity

Éanna É. Flanagan, David A. Nichols, Leo C. Stein, and Justin Vines

Phys. Rev. D 93, 104007 (2016) [arXiv:1602.01847] [doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.93.104007]

I wrote a blog post over at the RemarXiv about this work! Go check that out for more motivation behind this work.

For observers in curved spacetimes, elements of the dual space of the set of linearized Poincaré transformations from an observer’s tangent space to itself can be naturally interpreted as local linear and angular momenta. We present an operational procedure by which observers can measure such quantities using only information about the spacetime curvature at their location. When applied to observers near spacelike or null infinity in stationary, vacuum, asymptotically flat spacetimes, there is a sense in which the procedure yields well-defined linear and angular momenta of the spacetime.

We also describe a general method by which observers can transport local linear and angular momenta from one point to another, which improves previous prescriptions. This transport is not path independent in general, but becomes path independent for the measured momenta in the same limiting regime. The transport prescription is defined in terms of differential equations, but it can also be interpreted as parallel transport in a particular direct-sum vector bundle. Using the curvature of the connection on this bundle, we compute and discuss the holonomy of the transport law. We anticipate that these measurement and transport definitions may ultimately prove useful for clarifying the physical interpretation of the Bondi-Metzner-Sachs charges of asymptotically flat spacetimes.