In this article, we study the small sphere limit of the Wang-Yau quasi-local energy defined in [18,19]. Given a point p in a spacetime N , we consider a canonical family of surfaces approaching p along its future null cone and evaluate the limit of the Wang-Yau quasi-local energy. The evaluation relies on solving an "optimal embedding equation" whose solutions represent critical points of the quasi-local energy. For a spacetime with matter fields, the scenario is similar to that of the large sphere limit found in . Namely, there is a natural solution which is a local minimum, and the limit of its quasi-local energy recovers the stress-energy tensor at p . For a vacuum spacetime, the quasi-local energy vanishes to higher order and the solution of the optimal embedding equation is more complicated. Nevertheless, we are able to show that there exists a solution which is a local minimum and that the limit of its quasi-local energy is related to the Bel-Robinson tensor. Together with earlier work , this completes the consistency verification of the Wang-Yau quasi-local energy with all classical limits.
This article considers the quasi-local energy in reference to a general static spacetime. We follow the approach developed by the authors in [19, 20, 7, 9] and define the quasi-local energy as a difference of surface Hamiltonians, which are derived from the Einstein-Hilbert action. The new quasi-local energy provides an effective gauge independent measurement of how far a spacetime deviates away from the reference static spacetime on a finitely extended region.
We propose a geometric inequality for two-dimensional spacelike surfaces in the Schwarzschild spacetime. This inequality implies the Penrose inequality for collapsing dust shells in general relativity, as proposed by Penrose and Gibbons. We prove that the inequality holds in several important cases.
We define quasi-local conserved quantities in general relativity by using the optimal isometric embedding in Wang and Yau (Commun Math Phys 288(3):919–942, 2009) to transplant Killing fields in the Minkowski spacetime back to the 2-surface of interest in a physical spacetime. To each optimal isometric embedding, a dual element of the Lie algebra of the Lorentz group is assigned. Quasi-local angular momentum and quasi-local center of mass correspond to pairing this element with rotation Killing fields and boost Killing fields, respectively. They obey classical transformation laws under the action of the Poincaré group. We further justify these definitions by considering their limits as the total angular momentum and the total center of mass of an isolated system. These expressions were derived from the Hamilton–Jacobi analysis of the gravitational action and thus satisfy conservation laws. As a result, we obtained an invariant total angular momentum theorem in the Kerr spacetime. For a vacuum asymptotically flat initial data set of order 1, it is shown that the limits are always finite without any extra assumptions. We also study these total conserved quantities on a family of asymptotically flat initial data sets evolving by the vacuum Einstein evolution equation. It is shown that the total angular momentum is conserved under the evolution. For the total center of mass, the classical dynamical formula relating the center of mass, energy, and linear momentum is recovered, in the nonlinear context of initial data sets evolving by the vacuum Einstein evolution equation. The definition of quasi-local angular momentum provides an answer to the second problem in classical general relativity on Penrose’s list (Proc R Soc Lond Ser A 381(1780):53–63, 1982).
For a spacelike 2-surface in spacetime, we propose a new definition of quasi-local angular momentum and quasi-local center of mass, as an element in the dual space of the Lie algebra of the Lorentz group. Together with previous defined quasi-local energy-momentum, this completes the definition of conserved quantities in general relativity at the quasi-local level. We justify this definition by showing the consistency with the theory of special relativity and expectations on an axially symmetric spacetime. The limits at spatial infinity provide new definitions for total conserved quantities of an isolated system, which do not depend on any asymptotically flat coordinate system or asymptotic Killing field. The new proposal is free of ambiguities found in existing definitions and presents the first definition that precisely describes the dynamics of the Einstein equation.