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Journal Article

Strong lensing, plane gravitational waves and transient flashes


Harte,  Abraham I.
Astrophysical Relativity, AEI-Golm, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Harte, A. I. (2013). Strong lensing, plane gravitational waves and transient flashes. Classical and quantum gravity, 30(7): 075011. doi:10.1088/0264-9381/30/7/075011.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-0D34-7
Plane-symmetric gravitational waves are considered as gravitational lenses. Numbers of images, frequency shifts, mutual angles, and image distortion parameters are computed exactly in essentially all non-singular plane wave spacetimes. For a fixed observation event in a particular plane wave spacetime, the number of images is found to be the same for almost every source. This number can be any positive integer, including infinity. Wavepackets of finite width are discussed in detail as well as waves which maintain a constant amplitude for all time. Short wavepackets are found to generically produce up to two images of each source which appear (separately) only some time after the wave has passed. They are initially infinitely bright, infinitely blueshifted images of the infinitely distant past. Later, these images become dim and acquire a rapidly-increasing redshift. For sufficiently weak wavepackets, one such "flash" almost always exists. The appearance of a second flash requires that the Ricci tensor inside the wave exceed a certain threshold. This might occur if a gravitational plane wave is sourced by, e.g., a sufficiently strong electromagnetic plane wave.