Local Temperature in Curved Spacetime

Detlev Buchholz, Jan Schlemmer
August 30, 2006
A physically meaningful local concept of temperature is introduced in quantum field theory on curved spacetime and applied to the example of a massless field on de Sitter space. It turns out in this model that the equilibrium (Gibbs) states which can be prepared by a geodesic observer have in general a varying temperature distribution in the neighborhood of the geodesic and may not even allow for a consistent thermal interpretation close to the horizon. This result, which can be traced back to the Unruh effect, illustrates the failure of a global notion of temperature in curved spacetime and reveals the need for a local concept, as presented here.

local thermal equilibrium, QFT on curved spacetimes, de Sitter spacetime