We discuss a general method to study linear perturbations of slowly rotating black holes which is valid for any perturbation field, and particularly advantageous when the field equations are not separable. As an illustration of the method we investigate massive vector (Proca) perturbations in the Kerr metric, which do not appear to be separable in the standard Teukolsky formalism. Working in a perturbative scheme, we discuss two important effects induced by rotation: a Zeeman-like shift of nonaxisymmetric quasinormal modes and bound states with different azimuthal number m, and the coupling between axial and polar modes with different multipolar index l. We explicitly compute the perturbation equations up to second order in rotation, but in principle the method can be extended to any order. Working at first order in rotation we show that polar and axial Proca modes can be computed by solving two decoupled sets of equations, and we derive a single master equation describing axial perturbations of spin s = 0 and s = +/- 1. By extending the calculation to second order we can study the superradiant regime of Proca perturbations in a self-consistent way. For the first time we show that Proca fields around Kerr black holes exhibit a superradiant instability, which is significantly stronger than for massive scalar fields. Because of this instability, astrophysical observations of spinning black holes provide the tightest upper limit on the mass of the photon: m(gamma) less than or similar to 4 x 10(-20) eV under our most conservative assumptions. Spin measurements for the largest black holes could reduce this bound to m(gamma) <= 10(-22) eV or lower.
Perturbations of slowly rotating black holes: Massive vector fields in the Kerr metric / Pani, Paolo; Vitor, Cardoso; Gualtieri, Leonardo; Emanuele, Berti; Akihiro, Ishibashi. - In: PHYSICAL REVIEW D, PARTICLES, FIELDS, GRAVITATION, AND COSMOLOGY. - ISSN 1550-7998. - 86:10(2012). [10.1103/physrevd.86.104017]