### Abstract

Some concepts which have been proven to be useful in general relativity are characterized, definitions being given of a local isometry horizon, of which a special case is a Killing horizon (a null hypersurface whose null tangent vector can be normalized to coincide with a Killing vector field) and of the related concepts of invertibility and orthogonal transitivity of an isometry group in an *n*‐dimensional pseudo‐Riemannian manifold (a group is said to be orthogonally transitive if its surfaces of transitivity, being of dimension *p*, say, are orthogonal to a family of surfaces of conjugate dimension *n ‐ p*). The relationships between these concepts are described and it is shown (in Theorem 1) that, if an isometry group is orthogonally transitive then a local isometry horizon occurs wherever its surfaces of transitivity are null, and that it is a Killing horizon if the group is Abelian. In the case of (*n* ‐ 2)‐parameter Abelian groups it is shown (in Theorem 2) that, under suitable conditions (e.g., when a symmetry axis is present), the invertibility of the Ricci tensor is sufficient to imply orthogonal transitivity; definitions are given of convection and of the flux vector of an isometry group, and it is shown that the group is orthogonally transitive in a neighborhood if and only if the circulation of convective flux about the neighborhood vanishes. The purpose of this work is to obtain results which have physical significance in ordinary space‐time (*n* = 4), the main application being to stationary axisymmetric systems; illustrative examples are given at each stage; in particular it is shown that, when the source‐free Maxwell‐Einsteinequations are satisfied, the Ricci tensor must be invertible, so that Theorem 2 always applies (giving a generalization of the theorem of Papapetrou which applies to the pure‐vaccuum case).

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