Black holes as elementary particles

Christoph F.E. Holzhey, Frank Wilczek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

250 Scopus citations


It is argued that the qualitative features of black holes, regarded as quantum-mechanical objects, depend both on the parameters of the hole and on the microscopic theory in which it is embedded. A thermal description is inadequate for external holes. In particular, extreme holes of the charged dilaton family can have entropy but nonzero, and even (for a > 1) formally infinite, temperature. The existence of a tendency to radiate at the extreme, which threatens to overthrow any attempt to identify the entropy as available internal states and also to expose a naked singularity, is at first quite disturbing. However, by analyzing the perturbations around the extreme holes we show that these holes are protected by mass gaps, or, alternatively, potential barriers, which removes them from thermal contact with the external world. We suggest that the behavior of these extreme-dilation black holes, which from the point of view of traditional black-hole theory seems quite bizarre, can reasonably be interpreted as the holes doing their best to behave like normal elementary particles. The a < 1 holes behave qualitatively as extended objects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-477
Number of pages31
JournalNuclear Physics, Section B
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 10 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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