Thermodynamics of black holes

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265 Scopus citations


Black holes appear to conform to a very straightforward generalisation of standard laboratory thermodynamics. This generalised theory is examined in detail, and some concrete results are presented. The thermodynamic connection is based on Hawking's application of quantum theory to black holes, and the quantum aspects are described in detail from several standpoints, both heuristic and otherwise. The precise mechanism by which the black hole produces thermal radiation, its nature and origin, and the energetics of back-reaction on the hole are reviewed. The thermal states of quantum holes are also treated using the theory of thermal Green functions, and the entropy of the hole is shown to be related to the loss of information about the quantum states hidden behind the event horizon. Some related topics such as accelerated mirrors and observers in Minkowski space, super-radiance from rotating holes and the thermodynamics of general self-gravitating systems are also briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number004
Pages (from-to)1313-1355
Number of pages43
JournalReports on Progress in Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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