Black holes in higher dimensions

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Mathematics


Einstein's theory of General Relativity is a mathematical theory which currently provides the most accurate description of the force of gravity as observed in our universe. It predicts the existence of objects so massive that they distort space (and time) in such a way as to create a region from which nothing can escape -- such a region is called a black hole. Black holes provide such extreme settings for the study of gravitation that effects studied in quantum mechanics, the theory of the fundamental particles, become important. Therefore the study of black holes is an ideal arena within which to further our understanding of how gravity and quantum mechanics might be unified leading to a long sought after theory of quantum gravity.Superficially it appears that our universe has three spatial dimensions and one time dimension: together these are referred to as four dimensional space-time. A fundamental question is whether there are in fact more dimensions which we cannot see, either because they are too small or due to some other mechanism. In fact, String Theory, currently one of our best attempts at unifying the theory of gravity with the other forces, predicts the existence of extra dimensions. There are also more abstract reasons why it is important to investigate gravitation and objects such as black holes in more than four space-time dimensions. An important recent theoretical development is the realization that certain five dimensional theories of quantum gravity are in fact equivalent to particle physics theories in ordinary four dimensional space-time. This leads to the exciting possibility that we can learn about particle physics theories in regimes which are inaccessible using standard techniques, by studying five dimensional theories of gravity.The open problems within higher dimensional general relativity I propose to investigate are: (1) classification of all possible equilibrium (time independent) black holes and (2) dynamical stability of these black holes. In four space-time dimensions, both of these mathematical problems have been solved. It turns out that there is a unique black hole once one specifies its mass, spin and electric charge and it is stable. Furthermore, its event horizon (i.e. the boundary of the black hole) cannot have any holes - just like the surface of a (squashed) ball. These results are of clear astrophysical importance.In higher dimensions these problems are much more complicated. One reason for this is the existence of the black ring : a five dimensional black hole solution with a doughnut-like event horizon. It shows that an event horizon can have holes and thus need not be spherical. Furthermore, unlike in four dimensions, the mass, spin and electric charge are insufficient to specify a black hole as one can have both spherical and ring-like horizons. I intend to make progress on problems (1) and (2) by focusing on certain subsets of black holes which, while still physically interesting, are mathematically more amenable to analysis. I have already been developing new methods aimed at problem (1) by focusing on certain subsets of black holes and have used these successfully to answer certain open problems. I have also already worked on problem (2) by providing the first stability analysis for a certain subset of highly symmetric black holes. This has given me extensive experience with both (1) and (2) and I intend to use this to address these problems for more generic subsets of black holes.The results of these problems of higher dimensional general relativity have direct applications to string theory and quantum gravity, which I hope to study. They will contribute to the solution of important open problems such as the quantum description of black rings within string theory and the quantum description of certain black holes in terms of ordinary four dimensional particle physics theories. Solving such problems will deepen our understanding of quantum gravity.


10 25 50

publication icon
Hickling A (2015) Null infinity and extremal horizons in AdS-CFT in Classical and Quantum Gravity

publication icon
Horowitz G (2017) Comments on black holes in bubbling spacetimes in Journal of High Energy Physics

publication icon
Kunduri H (2018) No static bubbling spacetimes in higher dimensional Einstein-Maxwell theory in Classical and Quantum Gravity

publication icon
Kunduri H (2014) Degenerate horizons, Einstein metrics, and Lens space bundles in Journal of Geometry and Physics

publication icon
Kunduri H (2014) Black hole non-uniqueness via spacetime topology in five dimensions in Journal of High Energy Physics

publication icon
Kunduri H (2014) The first law of soliton and black hole mechanics in five dimensions in Classical and Quantum Gravity

publication icon
Kunduri H (2012) Extremal Sasakian horizons in Physics Letters B

publication icon
Kunduri H (2011) An Infinite Class of Extremal Horizons in Higher Dimensions in Communications in Mathematical Physics

publication icon
Kunduri H (2016) Black lenses in string theory in Physical Review D

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/H00355X/1 01/10/2009 01/10/2010 £446,982
EP/H00355X/2 Transfer EP/H00355X/1 01/10/2010 30/09/2014 £362,066
Description This research has advanced our understanding of the classification and stability of black holes in higher dimensions and opened up some new research avenues. Below is a summary of the key findings of this research.

1. The most significant result is the discovery of two novel types of five dimensional black hole solutions to the Einstein equations which exhibit new types of horizon or spacetime topology. This work poses fundamental new challenges to the string theory description of black holes.

2. Proved that all extreme black holes exhibit a certain kind of generic instability on their horizon. In particular, this work revealed a gravitational instability of such black holes within four dimensional General Relativity.

3. Initiated the use of Ricci flow in the context of the gauge/gravity duality to construct a novel type of solution to the Einstein equations. This provides important new insights into the nature of Hawking radiation in strongly coupled field theories.

4. Advanced the classification of near-horizon geometries of extreme black holes in diverse dimensions and theories, via the proof of new symmetry enhancement theorems and the construction of new higher dimensional solutions to the Einstein equations.
Exploitation Route The research conducted in this project is in fundamental mathematical sciences (physics). As such it is mostly of interest to other academics research in the same or related fields. In particular, the research lies at the interface of general relativity and string theory and may be of use to both of these research communities.
Sectors Other

Description The research conducted in this project is in the fundamental mathematical sciences (physics). As such, it is purely aimed at furthering knowledge, rather than any specific economic of societal impact.
Sector Other