Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Gravitational time dilation for a spherical body of finite radius

  1. Dec 26, 2013 #1
    I am considering the gravitational time dilation at the centre of a spherical, non-rotating body (such as the Earth). The usual formula for gravitational time dilation is √(1-r_s/r) where r_s is the Schwarzschild Radius and r is the radius of the clock compared to one at infinity, however, this can't be used for r=0.

    I believe the gravitational potential can also be used and the Newtonian approximation gives

    V = -GM/r for r>a

    V = -GM/2a(3-(r/a)^2) for r<a

    where a is the radius of the body

    Assuming a >> r_s, can that formula be used to find the time dilation at any radius or is the use of the potential only valid outside the sphere? Is there a more accurate fully relativistic method?
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 26, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    You can certainly use the Newtonian approximation if you wish, assuming that the fluid making up the source is a Newtonian fluid, but you can also very easily do this relativistically for a static spherically symmetric fluid star such that the fluid has no viscosity or heat conduction between fluid elements. You can find derivations and analyses of such static spherically symmetric perfect fluid solutions to Einstein's equation in just about every general relativity text. Once you have such an interior solution (i.e. the interior metric) and use the fact that Birkhoff's theorem forces the exterior space-time geometry to be Schwarzschild, you can straightforwardly derive gravitational time dilation using the usual technique.

    See chapter 10 of Schutz "A First Course in General Relativity", section 6.2 of Wald "General Relativity", chapter 7 of Straumann "General Relativity", chapter 10 of Hobson et al. "General Relativity: An Introduction for Physicists", and chapter 16 of Stephani et al. "Exact Solutions of Einstein's Field Equations".
  4. Dec 26, 2013 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

  5. Dec 26, 2013 #4
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook