# Black hole thermodynamics

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In physics, black hole thermodynamics  is the area of study that seeks to reconcile the laws of thermodynamics with the existence of black-hole event horizons. As the study of the statistical mechanics of black-body radiation led to the advent of the theory of quantum mechanics, the effort to understand the statistical mechanics of black holes has had a deep impact upon the understanding of quantum gravity, leading to the formulation of the holographic principle. Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its motion and behavior through space and time, and that studies the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves. The three laws of thermodynamics define physical quantities that characterize thermodynamic systems at thermal equilibrium. The laws describe how these quantities behave under various circumstances, and preclude the possibility of certain phenomena. In astrophysics, an event horizon is a boundary beyond which events cannot affect an observer on the opposite side of it. An event horizon is most commonly associated with black holes, where gravitational forces are so strong that light cannot escape.

## Contents An artist's depiction of two black holes merging, a process in which the laws of thermodynamics are upheld

## Overview

The second law of thermodynamics requires that black holes have entropy. If black holes carried no entropy, it would be possible to violate the second law by throwing mass into the black hole. The increase of the entropy of the black hole more than compensates for the decrease of the entropy carried by the object that was swallowed. The second law of thermodynamics states that the total entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time. The total entropy of a system and its surroundings can remain constant in ideal cases where the system is in thermodynamic equilibrium, or is undergoing a (fictive) reversible process. In all processes that occur, including spontaneous processes, the total entropy of the system and its surroundings increases and the process is irreversible in the thermodynamic sense. The increase in entropy accounts for the irreversibility of natural processes, and the asymmetry between future and past. In statistical mechanics, entropy is an extensive property of a thermodynamic system. It is closely related to the number Ω of microscopic configurations that are consistent with the macroscopic quantities that characterize the system. Under the assumption that each microstate is equally probable, the entropy is the natural logarithm of the number of microstates, multiplied by the Boltzmann constant kB. Formally,

Starting from theorems proved by Stephen Hawking, Jacob Bekenstein conjectured that the black hole entropy was proportional to the area of its event horizon divided by the Planck area. In 1973 Bekenstein suggested $(1/2\cdot \ln {2})/4\pi$ as the constant of proportionality, asserting that if the constant was not exactly this, it must be very close to it. The next year, in 1974, Hawking showed that black holes emit thermal Hawking radiation   corresponding to a certain temperature (Hawking temperature).   Using the thermodynamic relationship between energy, temperature and entropy, Hawking was able to confirm Bekenstein's conjecture and fix the constant of proportionality at $1/4$ : Stephen William Hawking was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author who was director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge at the time of his death. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009. Jacob David Bekenstein was a Mexican-born Israeli-American theoretical physicist who made fundamental contributions to the foundation of black hole thermodynamics and to other aspects of the connections between information and gravitation. Hawking radiation is black-body radiation that is predicted to be released by black holes, due to quantum effects near the event horizon. It is named after the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who provided a theoretical argument for its existence in 1974.

$S_{\text{BH}}={\frac {k_{B}A}{4\ell _{\text{P}}^{2}}},$ where $A$ is the area of the event horizon, $k_{B}$ is Boltzmann's constant, and $\ell _{\text{P}}={\sqrt {G\hbar /c^{3}}}$ is the Planck length. This is often referred to as the Bekenstein–Hawking formula. The subscript BH either stands for "black hole" or "Bekenstein–Hawking". The black-hole entropy is proportional to the area of its event horizon $A$ . The fact that the black-hole entropy is also the maximal entropy that can be obtained by the Bekenstein bound (wherein the Bekenstein bound becomes an equality) was the main observation that led to the holographic principle.  This area relationship was generalized to arbitrary regions via the Ryu-Takayanagi formula, which relates the entanglement entropy of a boundary conformal field theory to a specific surface in its dual gravitational theory. 

In physics, the Planck length, denoted P, is a unit of length that is the distance light travels in one unit of Planck time. It is equal to 1.616255(18)×10−35 m. It is a base unit in the system of Planck units, developed by physicist Max Planck. The Planck length can be defined from three fundamental physical constants: the speed of light in a vacuum, the Planck constant, and the gravitational constant.

In physics, the Bekenstein bound is an upper limit on the entropy S, or information I, that can be contained within a given finite region of space which has a finite amount of energy—or conversely, the maximal amount of information required to perfectly describe a given physical system down to the quantum level. It implies that the information of a physical system, or the information necessary to perfectly describe that system, must be finite if the region of space and the energy is finite. In computer science, this implies that there is a maximal information-processing rate for a physical system that has a finite size and energy, and that a Turing machine with finite physical dimensions and unbounded memory is not physically possible. The holographic principle is a tenet of string theories and a supposed property of quantum gravity that states that the description of a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a lower-dimensional boundary to the region—such as a light-like boundary like a gravitational horizon. First proposed by Gerard 't Hooft, it was given a precise string-theory interpretation by Leonard Susskind who combined his ideas with previous ones of 't Hooft and Charles Thorn. As pointed out by Raphael Bousso, Thorn observed in 1978 that string theory admits a lower-dimensional description in which gravity emerges from it in what would now be called a holographic way. The prime example of holography is the AdS/CFT correspondence.

Although Hawking's calculations gave further thermodynamic evidence for black-hole entropy, until 1995 no one was able to make a controlled calculation of black-hole entropy based on statistical mechanics, which associates entropy with a large number of microstates. In fact, so called "no-hair" theorems  appeared to suggest that black holes could have only a single microstate. The situation changed in 1995 when Andrew Strominger and Cumrun Vafa calculated  the right Bekenstein–Hawking entropy of a supersymmetric black hole in string theory, using methods based on D-branes and string duality. Their calculation was followed by many similar computations of entropy of large classes of other extremal and near-extremal black holes, and the result always agreed with the Bekenstein–Hawking formula. However, for the Schwarzschild black hole, viewed as the most far-from-extremal black hole, the relationship between micro- and macrostates has not been characterized. Efforts to develop an adequate answer within the framework of string theory continue.

Statistical mechanics is one of the pillars of modern physics. It is necessary for the fundamental study of any physical system that has a large number of degrees of freedom. The approach is based on statistical methods, probability theory and the microscopic physical laws.

The no-hair theorem states that all black hole solutions of the Einstein–Maxwell equations of gravitation and electromagnetism in general relativity can be completely characterized by only three externally observable classical parameters: mass, electric charge, and angular momentum. All other information about the matter which formed a black hole or is falling into it, "disappears" behind the black-hole event horizon and is therefore permanently inaccessible to external observers. Physicist John Archibald Wheeler expressed this idea with the phrase "black holes have no hair" which was the origin of the name. In a later interview, John Wheeler says that Jacob Bekenstein coined this phrase. Andrew Eben Strominger is an American theoretical physicist who is the director of Harvard's Center for the Fundamental Laws of Nature. He has made significant contributions to quantum gravity and string theory. These include his work on Calabi-Yau compactification and topology change in string theory, and on the stringy origin of black hole entropy. He is a senior fellow at the Society of Fellows, and is the Gwill E. York Professor of Physics.

In loop quantum gravity (LQG) [nb 1] it is possible to associate a geometrical interpretation to the microstates: these are the quantum geometries of the horizon. LQG offers a geometric explanation of the finiteness of the entropy and of the proportionality of the area of the horizon.   It is possible to derive, from the covariant formulation of full quantum theory (spinfoam) the correct relation between energy and area (1st law), the Unruh temperature and the distribution that yields Hawking entropy.  The calculation makes use of the notion of dynamical horizon and is done for non-extremal black holes. There seems to be also discussed the calculation of Bekenstein–Hawking entropy from the point of view of LQG. Loop quantum gravity (LQG) is a theory of quantum gravity, attempting to merge quantum mechanics and general relativity, while incorporating the standard model particles. It takes seriously the key insight from general relativity that space-time is a dynamic entity, not a fixed framework. It competes with string theory, another candidate for a theory of quantum gravity. However, unlike string theory, LQG is not a candidate for a theory of everything - the goal of which is to explain all of particle physics, unifying gravity with the other forces at the same time. In contrast to LQG, string theory is background-dependent and doesn’t account for the dynamic nature of space-time at the heart of relativity.

In theoretical physics, a dynamical horizon (DH) is a local description of evolving black hole horizons. In the literature there exist two different mathematical formulations of DHs—the 2+2 formulation developed by Sean Hayward and the 3+1 formulation developed by Abhay Ashtekar and others. It provides a description of a black hole that is evolving. A related formalism, for black holes with zero influx, is an isolated horizon.

## The laws of black hole mechanics

The four laws of black hole mechanics are physical properties that black holes are believed to satisfy. The laws, analogous to the laws of thermodynamics, were discovered by Brandon Carter, Stephen Hawking, and James Bardeen.

### Statement of the laws

The laws of black-hole mechanics are expressed in geometrized units.

### The zeroth law

The horizon has constant surface gravity for a stationary black hole.

### The first law

For perturbations of stationary black holes, the change of energy is related to change of area, angular momentum, and electric charge by

$dE={\frac {\kappa }{8\pi }}\,dA+\Omega \,dJ+\Phi \,dQ,$ where $E$ is the energy, $\kappa$ is the surface gravity, $A$ is the horizon area, $\Omega$ is the angular velocity, $J$ is the angular momentum, $\Phi$ is the electrostatic potential and $Q$ is the electric charge.

### The second law

The horizon area is, assuming the weak energy condition, a non-decreasing function of time:

${\frac {dA}{dt}}\geq 0.$ This "law" was superseded by Hawking's discovery that black holes radiate, which causes both the black hole's mass and the area of its horizon to decrease over time.

### The third law

It is not possible to form a black hole with vanishing surface gravity. That is, $\kappa =0$ cannot be achieved.

### Discussion of the laws

#### The zeroth law

The zeroth law is analogous to the zeroth law of thermodynamics, which states that the temperature is constant throughout a body in thermal equilibrium. It suggests that the surface gravity is analogous to temperature. T constant for thermal equilibrium for a normal system is analogous to $\kappa$ constant over the horizon of a stationary black hole.

#### The first law

The left side, $dE$ , is the change in energy (proportional to mass). Although the first term does not have an immediately obvious physical interpretation, the second and third terms on the right side represent changes in energy due to rotation and electromagnetism. Analogously, the first law of thermodynamics is a statement of energy conservation, which contains on its right side the term $TdS$ .

#### The second law

The second law is the statement of Hawking's area theorem. Analogously, the second law of thermodynamics states that the change in entropy in an isolated system will be greater than or equal to 0 for a spontaneous process, suggesting a link between entropy and the area of a black-hole horizon. However, this version violates the second law of thermodynamics by matter losing (its) entropy as it falls in, giving a decrease in entropy. However, generalizing the second law as the sum of black-hole entropy and outside entropy, shows that the second law of thermodynamics is not violated in a system including the universe beyond the horizon.

The generalized second law of thermodynamics (GSL) was needed to present the second law of thermodynamics as valid. This is because the second law of thermodynamics, as a result of the disappearance of entropy near the exterior of black holes, is not useful. The GSL allows for the application of the law because now the measurement of interior, common entropy is possible. The validity of the GSL can be established by studying an example, such as looking at a system having entropy that falls into a bigger, non-moving black hole, and establishing upper and lower entropy bounds for the increase in the black hole entropy and entropy of the system, respectively.  One should also note that the GSL will hold for theories of gravity such as Einstein gravity, Lovelock gravity, or Braneworld gravity, because the conditions to use GSL for these can be met. 

However, on the topic of black hole formation, the question becomes whether or not the generalized second law of thermodynamics will be valid, and if it is, it will have been proved valid for all situations. Because a black hole formation is not stationary, but instead moving, proving that the GSL holds is difficult. Proving the GSL is generally valid would require using quantum-statistical mechanics, because the GSL is both a quantum and statistical law. This discipline does not exist so the GSL can be assumed to be useful in general, as well as for prediction. For example, one can use the GSL to predict that, for a cold, non-rotating assembly of $N$ nucleons, $S_{BH}-S>0$ , where $S_{BH}$ is the entropy of a black hole and $S$ is the sum of the ordinary entropy.  

#### The third law

Extremal black holes  have vanishing surface gravity. Stating that $\kappa$ cannot go to zero is analogous to the third law of thermodynamics, which states that the entropy of a system at absolute zero is a well defined constant. This is because a system at zero temperature exists in its ground state. Furthermore, $\Delta S$ will reach zero at zero temperature, but $S$ itself will also reach zero, at least for perfect crystalline substances. No experimentally verified violations of the laws of thermodynamics are known yet.

### Interpretation of the laws

The four laws of black-hole mechanics suggest that one should identify the surface gravity of a black hole with temperature and the area of the event horizon with entropy, at least up to some multiplicative constants. If one only considers black holes classically, then they have zero temperature and, by the no-hair theorem,  zero entropy, and the laws of black-hole mechanics remain an analogy. However, when quantum-mechanical effects are taken into account, one finds that black holes emit thermal radiation (Hawking radiation) at a temperature

$T_{\text{H}}={\frac {\kappa }{2\pi }}.$ From the first law of black-hole mechanics, this determines the multiplicative constant of the Bekenstein–Hawking entropy, which is

$S_{\text{BH}}={\frac {A}{4}}.$ ## Beyond black holes

Gary Gibbons and Hawking have shown that black-hole thermodynamics is more general than black holes—that cosmological event horizons also have an entropy and temperature.

More fundamentally, 't Hooft and Susskind used the laws of black-hole thermodynamics to argue for a general holographic principle of nature, which asserts that consistent theories of gravity and quantum mechanics must be lower-dimensional. Though not yet fully understood in general, the holographic principle is central to theories like the AdS/CFT correspondence. 

There are also connections between black-hole entropy and fluid surface tension.