Say a e-, e+ virtual pair is created in the vicinity of a star.

During the short period of their existence they felt the gravitational field and picked up a net momentum towards the star. Now they can't annihilate into nothing because it would violate momentum conservation, is this correct?

I know I'm not supposed to see this problem using classical physics, but I'm not sure what's the correct quantum perspective.

  • $\begingroup$ Virtual pairs are not actually ever "created". $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Sep 4 '16 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ But they do contribute to the Feynman diagram right? $\endgroup$ – seilgu Sep 4 '16 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ What about it? If you read the original paper by Hawking, he pretty clearly states the "virtual particles getting separated" is just an analogy. His actual derivation doesn't use the notion at all. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Sep 4 '16 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/… as they are not real, you (and I) will have to check what Hawking Radiation actually consists of... Physical insight into the process may be gained by imagining that particle-antiparticle radiation is emitted from just beyond the event horizon. This radiation does not come directly from the black hole itself, but rather is a result of virtual particles being "boosted" by the black hole's gravitation into becoming real particles. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_radiation $\endgroup$ – user108787 Sep 4 '16 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to leave open, because a question based on a misunderstanding is answerable -- the answer is "this is the misunderstanding..." $\endgroup$ – user10851 Sep 5 '16 at 7:22

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