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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Ruth Gregory

Gregory, R., Moss, I. & Withers, B. (2014). Black holes as bubble nucleation sites. Journal of High Energy Physics 2014(3): 81.

Author(s) from Durham


We consider the effect of inhomogeneities on the rate of false vacuum decay. Modelling the inhomogeneity by a black hole, we construct explicit Euclidean instantons which describe the nucleation of a bubble of true vacuum centred on the inhomogeneity. We find that inhomogeneity significantly enhances the nucleation rate over that of the Coleman-de Luccia instanton — the black hole acts as a nucleation site for the bubble. The effect is larger than previously believed due to the contributions to the action from conical singularities. For a sufficiently low initial mass, the original black hole is replaced by flat space during this process, as viewed by a single causal patch observer. Increasing the initial mass, we find a critical value above which a black hole remnant survives the process. This resulting black hole can have a higher mass than the original black hole, but always has a lower entropy. We compare the process to bubble-to-bubble transitions, where there is a semi-classical Lorentzian description in the WKB approximation.