Do Naked Singularities Break the Rules of Physics?

The black hole has a troublesome sibling, the naked singularity. Physicists have long thought--hoped--it could never exist. But could it?
1 of 6

Naked Singularity

When the star is inhomogeneous, its gravity might never intensify enough to bend light rays back on themselves. The star collapses to a singularity, but the singularity is visible. [For step-by-step simulations, see box on next two pages.]....[ More ]

Black Hole - Spacetime Diagram

A homogeneous star without gas pressure collapses to a black hole. The star’s gravity intensifies, bending the paths of moving objects (including light rays) by an increasing amount and eventually trapping them.....[ More ]

Naked Singularity

A naked singularity looks like a tiny dust grain, except that it is almost inconceivably dense. Infalling matter can be seen all the way down to its final impact with the singularity. The intense gravity can generate powerful shock waves.....[ More ]

Black Hole - Exterior View

On the outside, the black hole looks like a pitch-black ball. The singularity lies within and cannot be seen. Friction within the surrounding disk generates intense radiation. Some disk material flies out in a jet; other material falls in.....[ More ]

Naked Singularity

A naked singularity lacks an event horizon. Like a black hole, it can suck in material; unlike a black hole, it can also spit it out.....[ More ]

Black Hole

The key feature of a black hole is its event horizon, a surface that material can enter but not exit. Often the horizon is surrounded by a swirling, gaseous disk.....[ More ]

risk free title graphic

YES! Send me a free issue of Scientific American with no obligation to continue the subscription. If I like it, I will be billed for the one-year subscription.

cover image Subscribe Now
Share this Article:

Give a Gift &
Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription
as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now! >


Email this Article