Quantum hair on black holes

Sidney Coleman, John Preskill, Frank Wilczek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


A black hole may carry quantum numbers that are not associated with massless gauge fields, contrary to the spirit of the "no-hair" theorems. We describe in detail two different types of black-hole hair that decay exponentially at long range. The first type is associated with discrete gauge charge and the screening is due to the Higgs mechanism. The second type is associated with color magnetic charge, and the screening is due to color confinement. In both cases, we perform semiclassical calculations of the effect of the hair on local observables outside the horizon, and on black-hole thermodynamics. These effects are generated by virtual cosmic strings, or virtual electric flux tubes, that sweep around the event horizon. The effects of discrete gauge charge are nonperturbative in h{stroke}, but the effects of color magnetic charge become h{stroke}-independent in a suitable limit. We present an alternative treatment of discrete gauge charge using dual variables, and examine the possibility of black-hole hair associated with discrete global symmetry. We draw the distinction between primary hair, which endows a black hole with new quantum numbers, and secondary hair, which does not, and we point out some varieties of secondary hair that occur in the standard model of particle physics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-246
Number of pages72
JournalNuclear Physics, Section B
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 6 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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