According to Andrew Steane's Thermodynamics chapter 19 on Thermal radiation:

"The total emission from a physical object can usefully be separated in two parts: the thermal radiation and the rest. Thermal radiation is the part associated with a non-zero temperature. It is caused by random jiggling of the charged particles of which the system is composed."

The random jiggling is crucial here to ensure the system energy gets distributed amongst the radiation particles in a maximal entropy distribution (the usual Boltzmann factors).

Now Hawking radiation occurs as a result of a black hole having a non-zero temperature and the spectrum has the usual Boltzmann factors (black body spectrum) suggesting it is fully thermalised.

On the other hand the derivation of Hawking radiation works equally for free fields or interacting fields, and the origin of the Boltzmann factors is really just the same as the Unruh effect (an horizon effect), so clearly the "random juggling of charge particles" plays no role in its thermalisation.

Is there an alternative thermalisation mechanism at play here, or is the notion of black hole temperature and thermal radiation just a formal analogy with no statistical physics origin?


1 Answer 1


This question has been answered here by Ron:

From where (in space-time) does Hawking radiation originate?

Note particularly this comment to Ron's answer:

" The way that the information is imprinted in the horizon is crazy--- its not that the photon is interacting with other stuff frozen on the horizon, its that the horizon itself is jiggling thermally, and the jiggles themselves are the infalling photon and the infalling matter. They contain the entire physics of the infalling matter. This is the holographic idea. When the infalling photon gets close, it is described more and more by BH jiggles (rather than cosmological jiggles), and these jiggles obey an information preserving field theory, at least when extremal."

  • $\begingroup$ Penrose diagrams should be retired, and downvoters, and those who give answers other than mine, have no idea what they're talking about.” - Amen!!! $\endgroup$
    – safesphere
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 20:47

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