The Bianchi identity and weak gravitational lensing

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We consider the Bianchi identity as a field equation for the distortion of the shapes of images produced by weak gravitational lensing. Using the spin coefficient formalism of Newman and Penrose (1962 J. Math. Phys. 3 566–78), we show that certain complex components of the Weyl and Ricci curvature tensors are directly related to fundamental observables in weak gravitational lensing. In the case of weak gravitational fields, we then show that the Bianchi identity provides a field equation for the Ricci tensor assuming a known Weyl tensor. From the Bianchi identity, we derive the integral equation for weak lensing presented by Miralda-Escude (1996 IAU Symp. vol 173 p 131), thus making the Bianchi identity a first principles equation of weak gravitational lensing. This equation is integrated in the important case of an axially symmetric lens and explicitly demonstrated in the case of a point lens and a singular isothermal sphere (SIS) model.

Original Citation

Kling T.P., Keith B. (2005). The Bianchi identity and weak gravitational lensing. Classical and Quantum Gravity, 22(14), 2921-2932. https://doi.org/10.1088/0264-9381/22/14/005