Global Structure of the Kerr Family of Gravitational Fields

Phys. Rev. 174, 1559 – Published 25 October 1968
Brandon Carter


The Kerr family of solutions of the Einstein and Einstein-Maxwell equations is the most general class of solutions known at present which could represent the field of a rotating neutral or electrically charged body in asymptotically flat space. When the charge and specific angular momentum are small compared with the mass, the part of the manifold which is stationary in the strict sense is incomplete at a Killing horizon. Analytically extended manifolds are constructed in order to remove this incompleteness. Some general methods for the analysis of causal behavior are described and applied. It is shown that in all except the spherically symmetric cases there is nontrivial causality violation, i.e., there are closed timelike lines which are not removable by taking a covering space; moreover, when the charge or angular momentum is so large that there are no Killing horizons, this causality violation is of the most flagrant possible kind in that it is possible to connect any event to any other by a future-directed timelike line. Although the symmetries provide only three constants of the motion, a fourth one turns out to be obtainable from the unexpected separability of the Hamilton-Jacobi equation, with the result that the equations, not only of geodesics but also of charged-particle orbits, can be integrated completely in terms of explicit quadratures. This makes it possible to prove that in the extended manifolds all geodesics which do not reach the central ring singularities are complete, and also that those timelike or null geodesics which do reach the singularities are entirely confined to the equator, with the further restriction, in the charged case, that they be null with a certain uniquely determined direction. The physical significance of these results is briefly discussed.


  • Received 29 March 1968
  • Published in the issue dated October 1968

© 1968 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

Brandon Carter*

  • Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England

  • *Present address: Institute of Theoretical Astronomy, Cambridge, England.

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