General relativity assumes that space itself is warped by gravity, which is what gives rise to the shapes of the paths followed by objects subject to a gravitational field.

If space itself truly bends, then the paths of all particles in an area of space warped by a gravitational field should be affected.

As a result, the path of the force carrier of an electrostatic field should also be affected by the presence of a gravitational field, since the path of that force carrier should also be affected by the local warping of space.

Therefore, any electrostatic field that is within an area of space warped by a gravitational field should in some way be affected the presence of the gravitational field.

If so, has the effect been measured by experimentation?

  • $\begingroup$ See: "Are static magnetic and electric fields distorted by gravity? How?" physics.stackexchange.com/q/367179 (indeed I think this amounts to asking a duplicate question) $\endgroup$ – Andrew Steane Aug 9 '19 at 11:08
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Are static magnetic and electric fields distorted by gravity? How? $\endgroup$ – Andrew Steane Aug 9 '19 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ Hi @AndrewSteane - I'm looking for an experiment that shows this is the case. The previous question did not address experimentation, and only discussed the theory. $\endgroup$ – Feynmanfan85 Aug 9 '19 at 13:15
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    $\begingroup$ I see; it looked to me as if the question was mainly "what happens?" rather than "we know what is expected to happen, but has it been directly measured?" Re measurement I don't know of a direct test but this result follows quite quickly from the basic theory, so all the various empirical confirmations of the theory in other respects work as indirect confirmations of this effect. More generally, em fields in strong gravity feature as an important part of the understanding of emission from (presumed) black holes, especially quasars. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Steane Aug 9 '19 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ Right, I'm asking because I'm wondering if this is a possible gap in experiments concerning relativity, which is obviously well tested otherwise. The other unaddressed issue I've found is whether the photoelectric effect is subject to time-dilation. This is a rather obvious question, and I couldn't find a single experiment that addresses it, and I looked quite thoroughly about a year ago in connection with my research into time-dilation. If you know of any experiments, I'd appreciate it. $\endgroup$ – Feynmanfan85 Aug 9 '19 at 15:53

You are correct, as per GR we usually use the phrase spacetime is bent by gravity.

Now you are saying that the path of the force carrier of an electrostatic field should be bent too.

Now in the case of the electrostatic field, we use virtual photons to describe the interaction between the field an another particle it interacts with.

These virtual particles are not real, they are just a mathematical model to describe the field.

These virtual particles should not be affected by bent spacetime.

Though, the electric field lines of the electrostatic field in your case, will follow the same trajectory as light, which is made up of real photons.

Therefore, the electrostatic field's shape is affected by bent spacetime. This means that the field lines will follow the same trajectories as real particles.


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    $\begingroup$ "These virtual particles are not affected by bent spacetime" - can you provide any references to back that statement? $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Aug 9 '19 at 9:25
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Correct, the field lines will follow the same path as real particles, so these will be affected. But virtual particles should not be affected though. On this site, physics.stackexchange.com/a/493803/132371 $\endgroup$ – Árpád Szendrei Aug 9 '19 at 10:27
  • $\begingroup$ Has this been measured experimentally? The link you provided simply says this is the case, without any experiment to show that this is in fact the case. The diagram in the article suggests very extreme gravity, given the trajectory of the photons, so I'm guessing it doesn't relate to an actual experiment. $\endgroup$ – Feynmanfan85 Aug 9 '19 at 13:05
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    $\begingroup$ That answer of mine you cite in your comment strongly advises you to not think in terms of virtual particles. It does not support any of the dubious claims you make here. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Aug 10 '19 at 17:01

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