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Curious Progger

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(FWIW, I have extensive programming experience, but my physics and mathematics understanding is only slightly past what was required of me as a CS undergrad. I understand I'll have to do learn more for this project, and am eager to do so.)

Since the light deflection is a result of spacetime curvature, I understand that the most accurate model would be based on (at least an approximation of) the general theory of relativity. "Linearized gravity" looks like it might be an adequate approximation, though still rather daunting.

I did look over related efforts on the web: http://www.vis.uni-stuttgart.de/en/research/scientific-visualisation/visualization-in-special-and-general-relativity.html (especially their geodesic viewing tools), http://www.spacetimetravel.org/ (especially, their "Light Deflection Near Neutron Stars"). Still rather overwhelmed about how to begin.

I'd be quite happy to start with a very crude approximation (how far off would it be to just use Newton's law to calculate and apply gravitational acceleration at a each position at fine grained moments in time?).

To further simplify, I'm planning to do a 2D version first. Should look similar to several of the diagrams of light deflection on the net (/insert google image search for "light deflection"). But those are almost certainly just artistic approximations, not a result of calculations, which is what I'm after.

To boil this down to a specific question: what's the simplest* formula I can apply to model the trajectory/curvature of spacetime that a ray of light will experience as it passes near a massive object?

(*) Simplest that gives a visually convincing result

(I did see the post "Light ray paths near schwarzschild black hole" that's similar, but that thread didn't come to a conclusion, and it was about black holes, which might be more difficult than say, a star?)