Sign up ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free.

It is known, that Reissner-Nordstrom black hole is thermodynamically unstable [1].

  • Does it mean, that there is no Reissner-Nordstrom black hole in physical world?
  • Does it mean, that there may be phase transition?
  • Does it mean, that it can be stable for enough long time?

[1] For example, pp.19-20.

share|cite|improve this question
Can you provide the reference where you encountered this statement? – kleingordon May 14 '13 at 22:38
For example:, pages 19, 20. Also i did my own calculations of Hessian. – drobnbobn May 14 '13 at 22:53
You can edit the question to include the reference. – Ben Crowell May 14 '13 at 23:07
I really don't know anything specific about Reissner-Nordstrom black holes, but I can make the following observations: 1) the article you quote gives a range of possible charges in which the instability goes away 2) Generally speaking, thermal instability means that the rate of heating or cooling will run away, causing the temperature to correspondingly and dramatically rise or fall. – kleingordon May 15 '13 at 1:11

1 Answer 1

Reissner-Nordstrom is thermodynamically unstable, and so are the Schwarzschild and Kerr solutions. The thermodynamic instability is easy to see and explain: smaller black holes are hotter than larger ones. So as a black hole radiates via the Hawking process, the black hole losses mass, shrinks, and becomes hotter. If you tried to put these black holes into thermal equilibrium with a heat bath, then any fluctuation of temperature would result in the black hole either evaporating to zero size or expanding to infinite size (depending on whether the initial fluctuation made the black hole a bit hotter, or a bit cooler than the heat bath, respectively).

This instability is not a problem the astrophysical relevance of black holes--it simply means that a truly time independent black hole isn't sensible--all black holes are either radiating or absorbing radiation.

The instability is strongly connected to the boundary conditions, in this case asymptotic flatness. If the black holes were instead in AdS space, then thermal equilibrium is possible. In fact there is a whole rich story of the thermodynamics of black holes in AdS, which has a strong connection with the AdS/CFT correspondence. The most famous phase transition in this context (which actually predates the AdS/CFT correspondence) is the Hawking-Page transition

share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.