Hawking-Evaporation – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Astrophysics Glossary

I. What is Hawking Radiation?

Hawking radiation is a theoretical prediction made by physicist Stephen Hawking in 1974. It refers to the phenomenon where black holes emit radiation and gradually lose mass over time. This concept was groundbreaking as it challenged the long-held belief that black holes were completely black and did not emit any form of radiation.

II. How does Hawking Radiation work?

According to quantum mechanics, particles and antiparticles are constantly being created and annihilated in pairs in empty space. Near the event horizon of a black hole, these particle-antiparticle pairs can be separated, with one particle falling into the black hole and the other escaping into space. The particle that falls into the black hole reduces its mass, causing it to emit radiation. This process is known as Hawking radiation.

III. What is the Hawking Temperature?

The temperature of a black hole, known as the Hawking temperature, is inversely proportional to its mass. As a black hole emits radiation and loses mass, its temperature increases. This means that smaller black holes have higher temperatures and emit more radiation than larger black holes. The Hawking temperature is a crucial factor in understanding the dynamics of black holes and their interactions with their surroundings.

IV. What is the black hole information paradox?

One of the most significant implications of Hawking radiation is the black hole information paradox. According to quantum mechanics, information cannot be destroyed, meaning that the information of particles that fall into a black hole should be conserved. However, Hawking radiation suggests that black holes can evaporate completely, leading to the loss of information. This contradiction between quantum mechanics and general relativity has puzzled physicists for decades and remains a topic of intense debate.

V. How does Hawking-Evaporation affect the lifespan of a black hole?

Hawking radiation has a profound impact on the lifespan of a black hole. As a black hole emits radiation and loses mass, its size decreases, and its temperature increases. Eventually, the black hole will reach a point where it can no longer sustain itself and will evaporate completely. The time it takes for a black hole to evaporate depends on its mass, with smaller black holes evaporating more quickly than larger ones. This process, known as Hawking evaporation, plays a crucial role in the evolution of black holes in the universe.

VI. What are the implications of Hawking-Evaporation for the study of astrophysics?

The concept of Hawking radiation and evaporation has far-reaching implications for the field of astrophysics. It provides insights into the behavior of black holes and their interactions with the surrounding environment. By studying the emission of Hawking radiation, scientists can gain a better understanding of the properties of black holes, such as their mass, temperature, and lifespan. Additionally, Hawking radiation offers a potential mechanism for the eventual disappearance of black holes, which has significant implications for the structure and evolution of the universe. Overall, the study of Hawking radiation and evaporation has revolutionized our understanding of black holes and continues to be a topic of active research in the field of astrophysics.