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You are on page 1of 10

Paulo Luz

Under supervision of Vitor Cardoso

CENTRA, Departamento de Fsica, Instituto Superior Tcnico,

Universidade Tcnica de Lisboa - UTL,

Avenida Rovisco Pais 1, 1049 Lisboa, Portugal.

(Dated: 15 October 2012)

Abstract

In this thesis we study the eect of self-interactions of particles with their own eld. We start by introducing

the rst attempt to quantify the eect of self-forces which, historically, appears in the study of electromagnetism.

We deduce the Larmor equation for accelerated charged particles, whose introduction in the equations of motion

implies a correction to the Lorentz force, the Abraham-Lorentz force. The study of the Abraham-Lorentz force

shows various problems such as violation of causality or innite accelerations. We then continue with the study of

the electromagnetic self-force within the special relativity framework deducing the Abraham-Lorentz-Dirac force,

which reduces to the equation found in the classical framework having the same problems as the previous one.

In the second half, the Einstein Field Equations are linearized and its computed the deformation in space-time

created by a massive point particle, concluding that it diverges in the particles position. To make sense of this

results a method to regularize the eld is used, which then allows the determination of the equation of motion

for a massive point particle in curved space-time. To nish, the equation found is used to study the self-force

eects in a four dimensional at space-time, concluding that the particles world line is a geodesic in rst order

of perturbation theory.

Keywords: Abraham-Lorentz-Dirac Force; Radiation Reaction; Self-force; Curved Space-time.

I. INTRODUCTION

In the beginning of the twentieth century there

were only known two types of interactions: grav-

itational, which, due to the Newton theory, was

believed to be instantaneous; and electromagnetic,

explained by the Maxwell Laws which stipulate that

the electromagnetic eld propagates at a nite ve-

locity, c. This fact allowed Joseph Larmor to de-

duce that an accelerated electrical charge would

radiate energy, going completely against what the

Lorentz equation says: a charge in an electric or

magnetic eld accelerates without loss of energy.

It was then necessary to incorporate this damping

eect in the equations of motion. This was rst

done by Max Abraham which suggested that the

energy loss was due to a self interaction of the par-

ticle with its own eld, generating a self-force on

the particle.

In 1905, Albert Einstein develops the theory of

special relativity that revolutionized the world of

physics. One of its consequences was the fact

that the speed of light in vacuum is the maximum

velocity at which information can travel. This ob-

viously implied that the Newton theory of gravity

couldnt be correct. Actually, in 1915, Einstein,

with a colossal conceptual leap introduced the the-

ory of general relativity, which stated that the grav-

itation was to be seen as a manifestation of the

curvature of space-time caused by the presence of

mass.

The recently created theory was able to predict and

explain a manifold of phenomenons such as the

evolution of binary pulsar systems, the structure of

black holes and the evolution of the universe as a

whole. The Einstein theory also predicts the exis-

tence of gravitational waves, ripples in space-time

that travel at the speed of light. This phenomenon

is one of the most interesting consequences of the

theory since the ability to detect this waves would

allow us to study regions and epochs of the uni-

verse that otherwise would be completely out of

range.

Although interesting, the detection of gravitational

waves as been one of the most challenging tasks

that physicists had to face. The extremely sen-

sitive instruments used to detect such waves are

sensible to signals coming from the whole universe

as well as background noise. To make sense of the

detected signals is of extreme importance to know

the bodies movement since the amplitudes of grav-

itational waves are dependent of quantities related

1

to the movement. This gave rise to a new interest

in the study of the perturbations due to self-force

eects in the bodies movement, and consequent

emission of gravitational waves.

II. ABRAHAM-LORENTZ FORCE

We start the study of self-force eects recalling the

rst attempt made to quantify such eects.

The Maxwell equations that govern the classical

electromagnetism imply that the scalar and vector

potentials obey the following equations:

2

=

0

;

2

A =

0

j.

(2.1)

Being linear, these equations can be solved using

the method of the Green functions. The propaga-

tor G(r, t, r

, t

a pulse localized at r = r

at a time t = t

, which

obeys to

_

1

c

2

2

t

2

_

G(r, t; r

, t

) = (rr

)(tt

),

(2.2)

where (r r

) (x x

)(y y

)(z z

).

The Eq.(2.2) can be solved using the method of

the Fourier Transform giving the solution

G(r, t; r

, t

) =

1

4r

_

_

t t

_

t

_

t

r

c

__

+

+

_

t

t

_

_

t

_

t +

r

c

___

=

= G

R

(r, t; r

, t

) + G

A

(r, t; r

, t

).

(2.3)

The Eq.(2.3) shows that the Green function

G(r, t; r

, t

tributions. To make sense of this result let w(t

)

be a vector function which gives the position of a

particle at each time t

the point where the eld is being detected, called

eld point. Since the electromagnetic information,

photons, propagate at a nite velocity, the photons

emitted at an instant t

R

, called retarded time, ar-

rive at the eld point at a time t > t

R

. Let w(t

R

)

be the position of the particle at the retarded time

t

R

, called retarded position, and r the vector de-

ned from the retarded position to the point eld

position, such that

r = r w(t

R

) . (2.4)

The retarded time can than be determined from

t

R

= t

r

c

, (2.5)

where r =| r w(t

R

) |.

The Eq.(2.5) expresses the fact that, since the pho-

tons propagate at a nite velocity, c, they take an

interval of time r/c to travel to the eld point. This

interpretation is exactly the meaning of the Green

function G

R

(r, t; r

, t

are emitted at in instant in the past and arrive at

the eld point at an instant in the future. The

opposite is expressed by G

A

(r, t; r

, t

). This in-

terpretation allows the denition of G

R

(r, t; r

, t

)

as the retarded Green function and G

A

(r, t; r

, t

)

as the advanced Green function.

The interpretation of the Green function in

Eq.(2.3) implies that the advanced Green function

has to be ignored since it implies a direct viola-

tion of the causality principle which states that the

cause has to precede the eect. So the Green func-

tion for the the Eqs.(2.1) is just

G(r, t; r

, t

) G

R

(r, t; r

, t

) =

1

4r

_

t

t

R

.

(2.6)

This result can then be used to compute the po-

tentials, such that

(r, t) =

1

4

0

q

_

r r

_,

A(r, t) =

0

4

qv

_

r r

_ =

v

c

2

(r, t) ,

(2.7)

where

= v/c. To nd this results one has to

bear in mind that the charge and current density

measured in a eld point are not the actual charge

and current densities of the moving sources since

dierent parts of the source have dierent retarded

times which implies a distorted density when seen

from a eld point.

The solutions in Eq.(2.7) are called the Linard-

Wiechert potentials, which express the general case

of the potentials created by a moving source.

2

Found the Linard-Wiechert potentials the equa-

tions

E =

A

t

,

B =

A,

(2.8)

allows the computation of the elds generated my

moving charges. The diculty of this computation

comes from the fact that the derivatives and vec-

tor operators in the above equation are to be taken

in the eld point but the potentials in Eq.(2.7)

depend explicitly of the retarded point. Bearing

in mind that a variation of the eld point implies

a variation of the retarded point, since a photon

emitted from the retarded position must always

reach the considered eld point, the retarded elds

are found to be

E (r, t) =

q

4

0

r

(r u)

3

__

c

2

v

2

_

u +r (u a)

_

,

B (r, t) =

1

c

r

E (r, t) .

(2.9)

The expressions found for the elds admit a natural

separation: the terms that dont depend of the

sources acceleration, and vary as 1/r

2

, are called

Velocity Fields, the terms that do depend of the

sources acceleration, which vary as 1/r, are called

Radiative Fields.

Found the retarded potentials is now possible

to compute the radiated energy from a moving

charge. It is, however, necessary to dene radi-

ation. Is dened radiation as the energy ow emit-

ted by the source carrying energy to the innity,

meaning, radiation is the fraction of energy that is

emitted and lost irretrievably by the source.

Using the Poynting theorem the power emitted by

the source is simply

P (r) =

S ndA =

1

E

B

_

ndA.

(2.10)

However not all energy emitted by the source rep-

resents radiated energy. The radiated energy must

only be the fraction lost to innity, such that

P

rad

lim

r+

P (r). One conclusion can then be

made right away, the terms in the retarded elds

that vary as 1/r

2

- which imply a 1/r

4

variation

of the Poynting vector - do not contribute to en-

ergy radiated by the source. So only the radiative

elds have to be considered in the computation of

radiated energy by the source.

Using the radiated elds and integrating over a

spherical surface centered at the position of the

particle one then nds the power radiated by the

source is

P

rad

=

0

q

2

a

2

6c

. (2.11)

This result is know as the Larmor formula and

states that an accelerated particle radiates energy

according to the Eq.(2.11).

Found that the laws of classical electrodynamics

imply an energy loss by an accelerated particle one

has to incorporate the radiative eects in the equa-

tion of motion, such that:

m

v =

F

ext

+

F

rad

, (2.12)

, where

F

rad

is considered to incorporate the eects

of the radiated energy.

Considering two instants t

1

and t

2

such that the

particle is in the same state in both instants one

can ignore the energy emitted by the particle that

is not radiated since the energy lost by the particle

to the velocity elds when accelerating is retrieved

when decelerating. This consideration implies that

the energy lost by the particle in the interval t =

t

2

t

1

is equal to the work done by

F

rad

, such that

t

2

t

1

F

rad

v dt =

t

2

t

1

0

q

2

6c

v

v dt. (2.13)

From this equation one nds that

F

rad

=

0

q

2

6c

a, (2.14)

called the Abraham-Lorentz force and representing

the rst attempt made to quantify the eects of

self interactions.

The inclusion of the Eq.(2.14) in the equation of

motion it gives

3

F

ext

= m

_

v

0

v

_

, (2.15)

with

0

=

0

q

2

6mc

. (2.16)

Seeking solutions of the Eq.(2.15) gives rise to se-

rious problems. Considering an arbitrary external

force that is turned o after an arbitrary interval of

time the solution of Eq.(2.15) states that the parti-

cle keeps accelerating indenitely. Other problems

arise when, by further manipulations, one nds that

the acceleration at a given time depends of the

force at earlier times. This implies that an inter-

val of time before the application of the force the

particle is already accelerating, implying a direct

violation of the causality principle.

III. ABRAHAM-LORENTZ-DIRAC FORCE

The deduction in the previous section was made

in the classical physics framework. Its but natural

to try to generalize the equations found within the

special relativity formalism and then hope to solve

the problems found earlier. For the rest of the arti-

cle the system of units is changed and contrary to

the previous section, where the International Sys-

tem was used, the system of Geometrized units is

adopted.

To start is useful to compute the retarded elds in

a fully covariant form. They are found by solving

the wave equation

2

A

= 4J

. (3.1)

The solution is found by computing the Green func-

tion. But, given that the previous result for the

propagator can be put in a covariant form it is also

Green function for the Eq.(3.1), so

G

R

_

x x

_

=

1

2

_

x

0

x

0

_

_

_

x x

_

2

_

,

(3.2)

where the advanced solution is ignored due to its

direct violation of the causality principle.

The result of Eq.(3.2) can that be used to compute

the retarded 4-potential:

A

R

(x) =

qv

[x z ()]

=

R

. (3.3)

The result in the Eq.(3.3) is the Lorentz invariant

form of the Linard-Wiechert potentials.

To compute the Maxwell tensor using the denition

F

, (3.4)

it has to be found a way to relate the variation

of the eld point and the variation of the retarded

point. Given that the retarded point must be con-

nected to the eld point by a null geodesic, then a

variation of the eld point can be related to a vari-

ation of the retarded eld. Finding such relation

its possible to nd

F

=

2q

R

_

a

[

k

]

+ a

v

[

k

]

_

+

2q

R

2

v

[

k

]

,

(3.5)

where the square brackets imply anti-

symmetrization of the indexes: : A

[

B

]

=

(A

measure of distance in space-time and k

is a

normalized vector tangent to the geodesic that

links the retarded point x

Found the expression for the Maxwell equation

is then possible to compute the electromagnetic

energy-momentum tensor using the equation

T

=

1

0

_

F

1

4

(F

)

_

. (3.6)

Given the expression of the Maxwell tensor is then

perceptible that there is an explicit separation of

a contribution of the, previously called, radiation

elds, that vary with R

1

, and velocity elds that

vary with R

2

. This natural separation implies

that the energy-momentum tensor can also be sep-

arated in the form T

= T

rad

+T

vel

. Then, using

Eq.(3.6) the expressions for each components are

given by

T

rad

=

q

2

4R

2

_

a

a

2

k

_

k

,

T

vel

=

q

2

4

_

2

R

3

_

k

(

a

)

+ a

k

_

k

(

k

)

k

__

+

+

1

R

4

_

2k

(

v

)

k

1

2

__

,

(3.7)

4

where a

k

:= a

ply symmetrization of the indexes: A

(

B

)

=

(A

+ A

) /2.

To use to energy-momentum conservation to nd

the expression for the relativistic electromagnetic

self-force it has to be dened a coordinate system

centered at particles retarded position, called, cre-

atively, Retarded Coordinate System.

The retarded coordinate system

_

R

, R,

A

_

is

build as follows: rst one selects a point z (

R

) at

the accelerated particles world line and consider

the future light cone of this point, to all events

in space-time lying on this light cone is assigned

the same coordinate

R

. The null light cone is

generated by null rays emanating from z (

R

) and

radiating in all directions. One may specify one

of these rays selecting two angles

A

, which give

the direction of the ray with respect to a reference

axis. To all events in space-time lying on the null

ray are assigned the same coordinates

A

. Finally,

a specic event on the light cone can be charac-

terized by the ane parameter distance from the

apex, dening the fourth coordinate R.

This construction allows the denition of a 3-

cylinder that encloses the world line of the

particle. It can, then, be calculated how much

electromagnetic-eld momentum ows across the

cylinders surface, given quite generally by

P

, (3.8)

where d

on .

Computing the surface element d

in retarded

coordinates one can then use the results found

in the Eqs.(3.7) and compute the ow of energy-

momentum that crosses the cylinder surface. For

the radiative component,

P

rad

=

q

2

4

_

a

2

a

2

k

_

k

d

R

d. (3.9)

Demanding that the electromagnetic-eld momen-

tum ows across the cylinders surface per unit

time corresponds to a change in the particles mo-

mentum one nds

dP

rad

d

R

=

2

3

q

2

a

2

v

. (3.10)

Making the same logic for the velocity elds:

dP

vel

d

R

=

q

2

2R

a

. (3.11)

Bringing together these results one nds

dP

em

d

R

=

q

2

2R

a

+

2

3

q

2

a

2

v

. (3.12)

Postulating the energy-momentum conservation

dP

mec

d

R

+

dP

em

d

R

= 0, (3.13)

and the form for P

mec

, nally yields the Abraham-

Lorentz-Equation:

ma

=

2

3

q

2

_

a

a

2

v

_

, (3.14)

where m is the sum of a purely material mass of

the particle and a electromagnetic contribution.

The equation found reduces to the classical result

having the same problems as the classical equation.

IV. SELF-FORCE EFFECTS ON A MASSIVE

POINT PARTICLE IN CURVED SPACE-TIME

The rst part of this work was intended to present

the rst attempt to quantify the self force eects.

The results found gave rise to serious problems

in classical physics showing its limitations when

studying the microscopic world.

The search for gravitational waves gave rise to a re-

newed interest in the self-force eects in the motion

of a source. That shall be studied in the following

section.

Given a point particle with mass m moving on a

world line the metric for the total space-time can

be written as:

g

= g

+ h

, (4.1)

where g

ground space-time, which is assumed to be a vac-

uum solution of the Einstein Field Equation (EFE),

and h

ence of the particle.

5

Given the Eq.(4.1) one can express the Einstein

tensor in terms of the background metric and the

perturbation, in the form

G

= G

+ G

+ G

, (4.2)

where G

space-time which is assumed to vanish, G

con-

tains all the linear terms, in the perturbation, called

the linearized Einstein operator; and G

repre-

sents all the non linear terms.

The linearized Einstein operator is found to be

G

=

1

2

_

+ 2R

_

+

+

1

2

_

;

+

h

;

g

;

_

,

(4.3)

where

:= h

1

2

g

_

g

_

. (4.4)

This result allows the EFE to be rewritten as

G

= 8T

eff

, (4.5)

where

T

eff

:= T

. (4.6)

To simplify the Eq.(4.3) the gauge freedom can be

used. Imposing the condition

;

= 0, (4.7)

called Einstein Condition or Harmonic Condition,

the Eq.(4.5) can be rewritten as

+ 2R

= 16T

eff

. (4.8)

It can also be shown that the gauge condition in

Eq.(4.7) is equivalent to the energy-momentum

conservation. This results, then, allows for a com-

plete linearization of the EFE since its possible to

completely separate the problem of nding the eld

created by the particle and its equation of motion.

The problem now is how to solve the Eq.(4.8). A

solution can be written formally as

(x) = 4

_

x, x

_

T

eff

_

x

_

_

g

d

4

x

,

(4.9)

where G

(x, x

function, a functional that depends of the space-

time metric that obeys the equation

G

_

x, x

_

+ 2R

_

x, x

_

= 4g

(

_

x, x

_

g

)

_

x, x

4

_

x, x

_

. (4.10)

The fact that, in general, given two events in

space-time they can be connected by more than

one geodesic imply that the Cauchy problem isnt

unique. But in a neighborhood of the base point,

called Convex Neighborhood, the Cauchy problem

is, indeed, unique and one can make the following

ansatz for the Green function

G

_

x, x

_

= U

_

x, x

+

() +

V

_

x, x

+

() ,

(4.11)

where U

(x, x

) represents a contribution

from the future null light cone of x

and

V

(x, x

the future light cone. Using the Eq.(4.11) in the

Eq.(4.10) one nds equations for each contribu-

tion.

In rst order of theory of perturbations the eective

energy-momentum tensor is just: T

eff

= T

. So

in order to continue, the explicit expression for the

energy-momentum tensor must be found.

Using the following action for a particle in space-

6

time:

S

particle

= m

ds = m

_

g

d,

(4.12)

it can be found that the energy-momentum tensor

for a point particle is given by

T

(x) = m

_

g

4

(x, z) d. (4.13)

Taking the divergence of this result and ensuring

energy-momentum conservation one recovers the

geodesic equation for a non-ane parametrization:

D z

d

= k z

, (4.14)

with

k =

1

_

g

D

d

_

g

. (4.15)

Writing the Eq.(4.14) in terms of the background

metric gives

a

=

1

2

_

g

+ v

_

(2h

;

h

;

) v

,

(4.16)

the equation of motion of the point particle in a

generic, vacuum EFE solution, background space-

time.

All is left is to compute the potential created by

the point particle. Using the Eqs.(4.11) and (4.13)

in the Eq.(4.9)

(x) =

4m

R

U

_

x, x

_

v

+

+ 4m

<

V

(x, z) v

d +

+ 4m

<

R

(x, z) v

d,

(4.17)

where

<

and

>

are the values of the proper time

at which the particles world line enters and leaves,

respectively, the convex neighborhood of the re-

tarded position x. To nd a concrete expression

for the eld one needs to generalize the retarded

coordinate system, introduced earlier, to a generic

curved space-time. Done that one nds out that,

as expected, the eld created by a point particle

diverges in the position of the particle. To make

sense of this result one computes the mean eld at

a 2-surface dened around the particles position

and then take the limit as the distance between

the geodesic and the points lying in the considered

surface tends to zero. The result is

_

_

= 4m

_

v

(

R

+ R

_

v

+

+

h

tail

,

(4.18)

where

h

tail

tribution that comes from the interior of the past

null light cone of the point x.

Getting back to the potential created by the parti-

cle, inverting Eq.(4.4),one nds

h

reg

;

= 4m

_

v

(

R

)

+ R

_

v

+ h

tail

;

h

tail

= 4m

_

G

R

1

2

g

G

R

_

_

z () , z

_

__

v

_

v

_

d

.

(4.19)

This results can then be used in Eq.(4.16) and the

equation of motion for a point particle, in rst or-

der, is given by

Dv

d

=

1

2

_

g

_

_

2

h

tail

h

tail

_

v

.

(4.20)

Finally, this formula can be used to compute the

self-force eects in the simple case of a point parti-

cle traveling in a four dimensional at background

space-time. In this case the perturbation due to

the point particles presence can be explicitly cal-

7

culated, such that

h

= A

exp (k

) . (4.21)

Using this equation in

h

= 0, (4.22)

gives

k

= 0. (4.23)

So, in rst order, the perturbation always travels

at speed of light and there is no tail term in at

four dimensional space-time.

V. CONCLUSIONS

In the rst part of this work was presented the

rst attempt to include the self-force eects in the

motion of a particle. The interest in such eects

arose in the study of Maxwells electromagnetism.

The analysis revealed behaviors that are unsustain-

able by the experimental data, since there is no

such thing as particles with innite acceleration -

such would lead to a clear violation of the energy-

momentum conservation.

In the second half the interest is changed to nd a

way to include self interaction eects in the equa-

tion of motion of a point particle in a curved space-

time. It was shown that is possible to dissociate

the EFE into a wave equation and a gauge condi-

tion directly linked to the conservation of energy-

momentum (cf. Eqs.(4.7) and (4.8)). It was then

found that the energy-momentum conservation im-

plied that the world line of the particle is a geodesic

of the total space-time. This fact allowed a com-

plete separation of the problem of nding the eld

created by the particle and its equation of motion.

The fact that the EFE can be linearized allowed

the interpretation of the eld created by a point

particle and to nd, in rst order, the equation of

motion of the particle when seen from the back-

ground space-time.

Finally, the results were used in the simple case of

a particle moving in a four dimensional at back-

ground space-time, concluding that the world line

of the particle is, in rst order, a geodesic, so there

arent self-force corrections to the particles move-

ment.

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10

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