Register to reply 
Does a photon curve spacetime, i.e., produce a gravitational field? 
Share this thread: 
#1
May308, 02:12 PM

P: 64

Does a photon curve spacetime, i.e., produce a gravitational field? Is the degree of curvature a function of its energy?



#2
May308, 06:04 PM

P: 308

no. a photon exhibits no locality.



#3
May308, 06:06 PM

P: 389




#4
May408, 11:38 AM

P: 2,954

Does a photon curve spacetime, i.e., produce a gravitational field?
That a photon's position cannot be determined with infinite precision to without leaving its energy totally unknown does not dictate that a photon can't generate a gravitational field. I don't see why they'd be mutually exclusive. One can always give a region of space in which the particle is contained within and as such the energy will be between certain but finite limits. Since a photon has energy it also has active gravitational mass and therefore can generate a gravitational field. Pete 


#5
May408, 03:51 PM

P: 308

hi pmb  i think we have had this discussion before, eh? once a single photon is emitted, it is essentially everywhere in the universe  ie, it displays no locality (ie, its position cannot be defined with ANY precision). since it has no defined position, it, ergo, cannot exhibit any local effect on gravitational field. as i recall, a light beam can, however, generate observable field effects. as always, feel free to correct me...



#6
May408, 05:42 PM

P: 3,967

If we place a laser at one end of a sealed tube and a target at the opposite end of the tube and all the photons from the laser arrive at the target within the expected time, then does that not imply a high probablity of the photons being within the tube during the journey from the laser to the target and imply some sort of locality? I find the quick tour of the universe by the photons between the emmiter and the target hard to visualise, especially if we limit the photons to the speed of light :P As I understand it the locality of a photon has a probabilty distribution that puts a high probability on the position ofa photon being in a certain area and a very small probabilty of it being almost anywhere else. I think it is a bit like the position of an electron that belongs to an atom. There is a small possibility of the electron being almost anywhere in the universe, but a much higher probability of the electron being somewhere near the atom it "belongs" to. With this analogy we could say that an electron has no locality and therefore no influence on the gravitational field which I think you will agree is nonsense. 


#7
May508, 11:30 AM

Sci Advisor
P: 2,510

I think we can all agree that it is not possible (at present) for us to measure the gravitational field of a photon. So, all of this discussion must be somewhat speculative. The correct answer to this question is not known with any high degree of certainty, is it?
I am pretty sure the photon does not have a gravitational field. I say this because a photon has no mass other than relativistic mass. If relativistic mass is a source of gravity, apparent paradoxes arise. If these paradoxes cannot be resolved, they serve as proof that relativistic mass cannot be a source of gravity, and gravity only proceeds from rest mass. Since a photon has no rest mass, it has no gravity. (That's my speculation.) 


#8
May508, 02:31 PM

P: 869

Since photons respond to gravity. as we can see from gravitational red/blue shifting as well as from gravitational lensing, there is no reason not to believe the photons themselves have a gravitational field.
And, Lurch, a photon may not have an invariant mass, but it does have an invariant energy, i.e., hf, so I don't see what paraxoes would arise from considering hf as equivalent to massenergy. 


#9
May508, 02:42 PM

P: 58

As Einstein Said "The mass tells the space how to curve, and the space(time curvature) tells the mass how to move", which may translate to "every thing that has mass create a curvature in spacetime and everything that follows the curved spacetime (i.e. responds to gravity) has mass".
Since, the photons respond to gravity, they have mass (let it be reletivistic) and hence should curve spacetime. 


#10
May508, 09:08 PM

P: 92




#11
May508, 11:31 PM

P: 4,512

Spatial curvature is described by 10 numbers; roughtly how time curves into space, space into space, and finally time into time (10 = four spacetime compontents taken two at a time, disregarding order taken). An electromagnetic wave is unique in that, unlike massive matter, all of it's energy is it's momentum. It will curve spacetime differently than massive objects. But you asked about photons. Photons propagate as waves (but so do the massive objects). So now we have to mix quantum mechanics with general relativity. Good luck with that, as no one has measured the effects of a single photon, or even a flock of them, on spacetime curvature. But in theory one can treat a photon as a propagating wave with a bandwidth and spatial extent having a well defined energy at each point in spacetme. If you want to know how such an electromagnetic field would bend spacetime you need one of the smart guys around here, because I have very little clue, sorry.



#12
May508, 11:59 PM

P: 4,512




#13
May608, 07:35 AM

PF Gold
P: 247

In general relativity, gravity is coupled to energy density and momentum flow, not only mass like in newtonian gravity. On this basis, an electromagnetic wave (general relativity does not consider light in terms of photons) will exert its own gravity, though extremely weak and not currently measurable. Gravity exerted by massive bodies is much higher because of their huge energy content (see the c squared term in the Einstein formula). 


#14
May608, 07:37 AM

P: 58




#15
May608, 07:58 AM

P: 2,954

Best wishes Pete 


#16
May608, 08:00 AM

P: 2,954

Pete 


#17
May608, 08:13 AM

P: 145

Or as one of my physics professors said, weigh a flashlight, turn it on till the batteries die then weigh it again now that all the light is out of it =) 


#18
May608, 08:19 AM

P: 2,954

Best wishes Pete 


Register to reply 
Related Discussions  
Space time curve  Special & General Relativity  2  
Since time slows down in a strong gravitational field, does time stop in a black hole  Special & General Relativity  12  
? Earth's Gravitational Field Effect on space shuttles  Introductory Physics Homework  6  
Does Magnetism Curve Space and Time  Special & General Relativity  14  
How do you calculate time dilation in a gravitational field  Special & General Relativity  19 