Schwarzschild metric

In Einstein's theory of general relativity, the Schwarzschild metric (also known as the Schwarzschild vacuum or Schwarzschild solution) is the solution to the Einstein field equations that describes the gravitational field outside a spherical mass, on the assumption that the electric charge of the mass, angular momentum of the mass, and universal cosmological constant are all zero. The solution is a useful approximation for describing slowly rotating astronomical objects such as many stars and planets, including Earth and the Sun. The solution is named after Karl Schwarzschild, who first published the solution in 1916.

According to Birkhoff's theorem, the Schwarzschild metric is the most general spherically symmetric vacuum solution of the Einstein field equations. A Schwarzschild black hole or static black hole is a black hole that has neither electric charge nor angular momentum. A Schwarzschild black hole is described by the Schwarzschild metric, and cannot be distinguished from any other Schwarzschild black hole except by its mass.

The Schwarzschild black hole is characterized by a surrounding spherical boundary, called the event horizon, which is situated at the Schwarzschild radius, often called the radius of a black hole. The boundary is not a physical surface, and if a person fell through the event horizon (before being torn apart by tidal forces), they would not notice any physical surface at that position; it is a mathematical surface which is significant in determining the black hole's properties. Any non-rotating and non-charged mass that is smaller than its Schwarzschild radius forms a black hole. The solution of the Einstein field equations is valid for any mass M, so in principle (according to general relativity theory) a Schwarzschild black hole of any mass could exist if conditions became sufficiently favorable to allow for its formation.

The Schwarzschild metric

In Schwarzschild coordinates, with signature (-1, 1, 1, 1), the line element for the Schwarzschild metric has the form


This solution is anagolous to a classical Newtonian theory of gravity that corresponds to the gravitational field around a point particle.[2]

The radial coordinate turns out to have physical significance as the "proper distance between two events that occur simultaneously relative to the radially moving geodesic clocks, the two events lying on the same radial coordinate line".[3]

In practice, the ratio rs/r is almost always extremely small. For example, the Schwarzschild radius rs of the Earth is roughly 8.9 mm, while the Sun, which is 3.3×105 times as massive[4] has a Schwarzschild radius of approximately 3.0 km. Even at the surface of the Earth, the corrections to Newtonian gravity are only one part in a billion. The ratio becomes large only in relatively close proximity to black holes and other ultra-dense objects such as neutron stars.[citation needed]

The Schwarzschild metric is a solution of Einstein's field equations in empty space, meaning that it is valid only outside the gravitating body. That is, for a spherical body of radius R the solution is valid for r > R. To describe the gravitational field both inside and outside the gravitating body the Schwarzschild solution must be matched with some suitable interior solution at r = R,[5] such as the interior Schwarzschild metric.

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