Quantum geometry of isolated horizons and black hole entropy

Abhay Ashtekar, John C. Baez, Kirill Krasnov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

419 Scopus citations


Using the classical Hamiltonian framework of [1] as the point of departure, we carry out a non-perturbative quantization of the sector of general relativity, coupled to matter, admitting non-rotating isolated horizons as inner boundaries. The emphasis is on the quantum geometry of the horizon. Polymer excitations of the bulk quantum geometry pierce the horizon endowing it with area. The intrinsic geometry of the horizon is then described by the quantum Chern-Simons theory of a U(1) connection on a punctured 2-sphere, the horizon. Subtle mathematical features of the quantum Chern-Simons theory turn out to be important for the existence of a coherent quantum theory of the horizon geometry. Heuristically, the intrinsic geometry is flat everywhere except at the punctures. The distributional curvature of the U(1) connection at the punctures gives rise to quantized deficit angles which account for the overall curvature. For macroscopic black holes, the logarithm of the number of these horizon microstates is proportional to the area, irrespective of the values of (non-gravitational) charges. Thus, the black hole entropy can be accounted for entirely by the quantum states of the horizon geometry. Our analysis is applicable to all non-rotating black holes, including the astrophysically interesting ones which are very far from extremality. Furthermore, cosmological horizons (to which statistical mechanical considerations are known to apply) are naturally incorporated. An effort has been made to make the paper self-contained by including short reviews of the background material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-66
Number of pages66
JournalAdvances in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Mathematics
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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