Discovering the interior of black holes

Ram Brustein, A. J.M. Medved, K. Yagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The detection of gravitational waves (GWs) from black hole (BH) mergers provides an inroad toward probing the interior of astrophysical BHs. The general-relativistic description of the BH interior is that of empty spacetime with a (possibly) singular core. Recently, however, the hypothesis that the BH interior does not exist has been gaining traction, as it provides a means for resolving the BH information-loss problem. Here, we propose a simple method for answering the following question: Does the BH interior exist and, if so, does it contain some distribution of matter or is it mostly empty? Our proposal is premised on the idea that, similar to the case of relativistic, ultracompact stars, any BH-like object whose interior has some matter distribution should support fluid modes in addition to the conventional spacetime modes. In particular, the Coriolis-induced Rossby (r-) modes, whose spectrum is mostly insensitive to the composition of the interior matter, should be a universal feature of such BH-like objects. In fact, the frequency and damping time of these modes are determined by only the object's mass and speed of rotation. The r-modes oscillate at a lower frequency, decay at a slower rate, and produce weaker GWs than do the spacetime modes. Hence, they imprint a model-insensitive signature of a nonempty interior in the GW spectrum resulting from a BH merger. We find that future GW detectors, such as Advanced LIGO with its design sensitivity, have the potential of detecting such r-modes if the amount of GWs leaking out quantum mechanically from the interior of a BH-like object is sufficiently large.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124021
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number12
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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