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Gravitational lensing by spinning black holes in astrophysics, and in the movie Interstellar

James, Oliver and von Tunzelmann, Eugénie and Franklin, Paul and Thorne, Kip S. (2015) Gravitational lensing by spinning black holes in astrophysics, and in the movie Interstellar. Classical and Quantum Gravity, 32 (6). Art. No. 065001. ISSN 0264-9381. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20150410-073708571

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Abstract

Interstellar is the first Hollywood movie to attempt depicting a black hole as it would actually be seen by somebody nearby. For this, our team at Double Negative Visual Effects, in collaboration with physicist Kip Thorne, developed a code called Double Negative Gravitational Renderer (DNGR) to solve the equations for ray-bundle (light-beam) propagation through the curved spacetime of a spinning (Kerr) black hole, and to render IMAX-quality, rapidly changing images. Our ray-bundle techniques were crucial for achieving IMAX-quality smoothness without flickering; and they differ from physicists' image-generation techniques (which generally rely on individual light rays rather than ray bundles), and also differ from techniques previously used in the film industry's CGI community. This paper has four purposes: (i) to describe DNGR for physicists and CGI practitioners, who may find interesting and useful some of our unconventional techniques. (ii) To present the equations we use, when the camera is in arbitrary motion at an arbitrary location near a Kerr black hole, for mapping light sources to camera images via elliptical ray bundles. (iii) To describe new insights, from DNGR, into gravitational lensing when the camera is near the spinning black hole, rather than far away as in almost all prior studies; we focus on the shapes, sizes and influence of caustics and critical curves, the creation and annihilation of stellar images, the pattern of multiple images, and the influence of almost-trapped light rays, and we find similar results to the more familiar case of a camera far from the hole. (iv) To describe how the images of the black hole Gargantua and its accretion disk, in the movie Interstellar, were generated with DNGR—including, especially, the influences of (a) colour changes due to doppler and gravitational frequency shifts, (b) intensity changes due to the frequency shifts, (c) simulated camera lens flare, and (d) decisions that the film makers made about these influences and about the Gargantua's spin, with the goal of producing images understandable for a mass audience. There are no new astrophysical insights in this accretion-disk section of the paper, but disk novices may find it pedagogically interesting, and movie buffs may find its discussions of Interstellar interesting.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/0264-9381/32/6/065001 DOIArticle
http://iopscience.iop.org/0264-9381/32/6/065001/PublisherArticle
http://iopscience.iop.org/0264-9381/32/6/065001/mediaPublisherSupplementary Data
http://arxiv.org/abs/1502.03808arXivDiscussion Paper
Additional Information:© 2015 IOP Publishing Ltd. Content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. Received 27 November 2014, revised 12 January 2015; Accepted for publication 13 January 2015; Published 13 February 2015. For very helpful advice during the development of DNGR and/or during the research with it reported here, we thank C Nolan, A Riazuelo, J-P Luminet, R Blandford, A Bohn, F Hebert, W Throwe, A Broderick and D Psaltis. For contributions to DNGR and its applications, we thank members of the Double Negative R & D team S Dieckmann, S Pabst, S Christopher, P-G Roberts, and D Maupu; and also Double Negative artists F Zangla, S Roth, Z Lord, I di Luigi, F Fan, N New, T Myles, and P Howlett. The construction of DNGR was funded by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., for generating visual effects for the movie Interstellar. We thank Warner Bros. for authorizing this code’s additional use for scientific research, and in particular the research reported in this paper.
Group:Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics, TAPIR
Funders:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.UNSPECIFIED
Classification Code:PACS: 97.60.Lf; 97.10.Gz; 98.62.Sb; 98.62.Js; 95.75.Mn. MSC: 83C57; 83C75.
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150410-073708571
Persistent URL:http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20150410-073708571
Official Citation:Gravitational lensing by spinning black holes in astrophysics, and in the movie Interstellar Oliver James et al 2015 Class. Quantum Grav. 32 065001
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:56563
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:10 Apr 2015 16:27
Last Modified:12 Aug 2015 21:01

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