We consider conformal actions of simple Lie groups on compact Lorentzian manifolds. Mainly motivated by the Lorentzian version of a conjecture of Lichnerowicz, we establish the alternative: Either the group acts isometrically for some metric in the conformal class, or the manifold is conformally flat – that is, everywhere locally conformally diffeomorphic to Minkowski space-time. When the group is non-compact and not locally isomorphic to SO, we derive global conclusions, extending a theorem of  to some simple Lie groups of real-rank 1. This result is also a first step towards a classification of conformal groups of compact Lorentzian manifolds, analogous to a classification of their isometry groups due to Adams, Stuck and, independently, Zeghib [1, 2, 32].
Cite this article
Vincent Pecastaing, Lorentzian manifolds with a conformal action of SL(2,R). Comment. Math. Helv. 93 (2018), no. 2, pp. 401–439DOI 10.4171/CMH/439