A New Way to See Inside Black Holes

Richard Conn Henry, James Overduin and Kielan Wilcomb
Proceedings of Bridges 2015: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2015)
Pages 479–482 Short Papers


Black holes are real astrophysical objects, but their interiors are hidden and can only be “observed” through mathematics. The structure of rotating black holes is typically illustrated with the help of special coordinates. But any such coordinate choice necessarily results in a distorted view, just as the choice of projection distorts a map of the Earth. The truest way to depict the properties of a black hole is through quantities that are coordinate-invariant. We compute and plot all the independent curvature invariants of rotating, charged black holes for the first time, revealing a landscape that is much more beautiful and complex than usually thought.