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

Visual effects of SR versus GR

  1. Nov 7, 2011 #1
    If you are travelling very very fast in a space ship, are there any visual effects produced by general relativity that you wouldn't see from just special relativity?
    Assuming we don't get close to large gravity wells like black holes.

    Does the acceleration of the ship produce any visual effects due to GR? As SR doesn't care about acceleration, just velocity.

    In other words, if I wrote a renderer based on special relativity, would it look wrong as I flew around in space near light speed?

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 7, 2011 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Acceleration of ship certainly produce rather weird and counterintuitive effects but they are still SR effects.

    There is video that might give some idea:
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  4. Nov 8, 2011 #3
    Great link.
    I suppose that acceleration still affects the visual in SR because the ships motion changes during the duration of each light path.

    So, could we conclude that a renderer based on SR (Lorentz) equations would be a good approximation to the real (GR) effect, if we stay clear of large gravity wells?
  5. Nov 8, 2011 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    The best web site dealing with SR & GR effects visualization is probably:

    You have to differentiate between SR & GR effects on the one hand, and signal delay effects on the other. The 4D ray tracers they use naturally incorporate both aspects. Here some of their publications:
  6. Nov 8, 2011 #5
    Yes indeed: SR perfectly handles effects from acceleration, GR only adds effects from gravitation.
  7. Nov 8, 2011 #6
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook