Belinski–Zakharov transform

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The Belinski–Zakharov (inverse) transform is a nonlinear transformation that generates new exact solutions of the vacuum Einstein's field equation. It was developed by Vladimir Belinski and Vladimir Zakharov in 1978.[1] The Belinski–Zakharov transform is a generalization of the inverse scattering transform. The solutions produced by this transform are called gravitational solitons (gravisolitons). Despite the term 'soliton' being used to describe gravitational solitons, their behavior is very different from other (classical) solitons.[2] In particular, gravitational solitons do not preserve their amplitude and shape in time, and up to June 2012 their general interpretation remains unknown. What is known however, is that most black holes (and particularly the Schwarzschild metric and the Kerr metric) are special cases of gravitational solitons.


The Belinski–Zakharov transform works for spacetime intervals of the form

where we use Einstein's summation convention for . It is assumed that both the function and the matrix depend on the coordinates and only. Despite being a specific form of the spacetime interval that depends only on two variables, it includes a great number of interesting solutions a special cases, such as the Schwarzschild metric, the Kerr metric, Einstein–Rosen metric, and many others.

In this case, Einstein's vacuum equation decomposes into two sets of equations for the matrix and the function . Using light-cone coordinates , the first equation for the matrix is

where is the square root of the determinant of , namely

The second set of equations is

Taking the trace of the matrix equation for reveals that in fact satisfies the wave equation

The Lax Pair

Consider the linear operators defined by

where is an auxiliary complex spectral parameter. A simple computation shows that since satisfies the wave equation, and in fact these pair of operators commute.

The gist behind the inverse scattering transform is rewriting the nonlinear Einstein equation as an overdetermined linear system of equation for a new matrix function . Consider the Belinski–Zakharov equations:

By operating on the left-hand side of the first equation with and on the left-hand side of the second equation with and subtracting the results, the left-hand side vanishes as a result of the commutativity of and . As for the right-hand side, a short computation shows that indeed it vanishes as well precisely when satisfies the nonlinear matrix Einstein equation.

This means that the overdetermined linear Belinski–Zakharov equations are solvable simultaneously exactly when solves the nonlinear matrix equation . Actually, one can easily restore from the matrix-valued function by a simple limiting process. Taking the limit in the Belinski-Zakharov equations and multiplying by from the right gives

Thus a solution of the nonlinear equation is obtained from a solution of the linear Belinski–Zakharov equation by a simple evaluation


  1. V. Belinskii and V. Zakharov, Integration of the Einstein Equations by Means of the Inverse Scattering Problem Technique and Construction of Exact Soliton Solutions, Sov. Phys. JETP 48(6) (1978)
  2. V. Belinski and E. Verdaguer, Gravitational Solitons, Cambridge Monographs on Mathematical Physics (2001)


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