Title

The Optical-Mechanical Analogy in General Relativity: Exact Newtonian Forms for the Equations of Motion of Particles and Photons

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1996

Publication Title

General Relativity and Gravitation

Department

Physics

Abstract

In many metrics of physical interest, the gravitational field can be represented as an optical medium with an effective index of refraction. We show that, in such a metric, the orbits of both massive and massless particles are governed by a variational principle which involves the index of refraction and which assumes the form of Fermat's principle or of Maupertuis's principle. From this variational principle we derive exact equations of motion of Newtonian form which govern both massless and massive particles. These equations of motion are applied to some problems of physical interest.

ISSN

0001-7701