Quenching mechanisms of photon superradiance

Diego Blas, Samuel J. Witte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Rapidly rotating black holes are known to develop instabilities in the presence of a sufficiently light boson, a process which becomes efficient when the boson's Compton wavelength is roughly the size of the black hole. This phenomenon known as black hole superradiance generates an exponentially growing boson cloud at the expense of the rotational energy of the black hole. For astrophysical black holes with M∼O(10)M, the superradiant condition is achieved for bosons with mb∼O(10-11) eV; intriguingly, photons traversing the intergalactic medium acquire an effective mass (due to their interactions with the ambient plasma) which naturally resides in this range. The implications of photon superradiance, i.e., the evolution of the superradiant photon cloud and ambient plasma in the presence of scattering and particle production processes, have yet to be thoroughly investigated. Here, we enumerate and discuss a number of different processes capable of quenching the growth of the photon cloud, including particle interactions with the ambient electrons and backreactions on the effective mass (arising e.g., from thermal effects, pair production, ionization of the local background, and modifications to the dispersion relation from strong electric fields). This work naturally serves as a guide in understanding how interactions may allow light exotic bosons to evade superradiant constraints.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123018
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2020


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