Horizons of semiclassical black holes are cold

Ram Brustein, A. J.M. Medved

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We calculate, using our recently proposed semiclassical framework, the quantum state of the Hawking pairs that are produced during the evaporation of a black hole (BH). Our framework adheres to the standard rules of quantum mechanics and incorporates the quantum fluctuations of the collapsing shell spacetime in Hawking's original calculation, while accounting for back-reaction effects. We argue that the negative-energy Hawking modes need to be regularly integrated out; and so these are effectively subsumed by the BH and, as a result, the number of coherent negative-energy modes N coh at any given time is parametrically smaller than the total number of the Hawking particles N total emitted during the lifetime of the BH. We find that N coh is determined by the width of the BH wavefunction and scales as the square root of the BH entropy. We also find that the coherent negative-energy modes are strongly entangled with their positive-energy partners. Previously, we have found that N coh is also the number of coherent outgoing particles and that information can be continually transferred to the outgoing radiation at a rate set by N coh . Our current results show that, while the BH is semiclassical, information can be released without jeopardizing the nearly maximal inside-out entanglement and imply that the state of matter near the horizon is approximately the vacuum. The BH firewall proposal, on the other hand, is that the state of matter near the horizon deviates substantially from the vacuum, starting at the Page time. We find that, under the usual assumptions for justifying the formation of a firewall, one does indeed form at the Page time. However, the possible loophole lies in the implicit assumption that the number of strongly entangled pairs can be of the same order of N total .

Original languageEnglish
Article number57
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Black Holes
  • Models of Quantum Gravity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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