Density matrix of black hole radiation

Lasma Alberte, Ram Brustein, Andrei Khmelnitsky, A. J.M. Medved

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract: Hawking’s model of black hole evaporation is not unitary and leads to a mixed density matrix for the emitted radiation, while the Page model describes a unitary evaporation process in which the density matrix evolves from an almost thermal state to a pure state. We compare a recently proposed model of semiclassical black hole evaporation to the two established models. In particular, we study the density matrix of the outgoing radiation and determine how the magnitude of the off-diagonal corrections differs for the three frameworks. For Hawking’s model, we find power-law corrections to the two-point functions that induce exponentially suppressed corrections to the off-diagonal elements of the full density matrix. This verifies that the Hawking result is correct to all orders in perturbation theory and also allows one to express the full density matrix in terms of the single-particle density matrix. We then consider the semiclassical theory for which the corrections, being non-perturbative from an effective field-theory perspective, are much less suppressed and grow monotonically in time. In this case, the Rényi entropy for the outgoing radiation is shown to grow linearly at early times; but this growth slows down and the entropy eventually starts to decrease at the Page time. In addition to comparing models, we emphasize the distinction between the state of the radiation emitted from a black hole, which is highly quantum, and that of the radiation emitted from a typical classical black body at the same temperature.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number15
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 7 Aug 2015


  • Black Holes
  • Models of Quantum Gravity

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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