General Question

mrswho's avatar

Does anyone know what the deal with naked singularities is?

Asked by mrswho (1690points) February 12th, 2009

Apparently they are like black holes that aren’t black or particularly hole like. That confuses me. Singularities are points where gravity becomes infinite and spacetime breaks down (I think). They just don’t seem to make sence to me out side of a black hole all indecent and such. Can anyone make sence of them?

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18 Answers

scamp's avatar

I found this for you. does it help?

Baloo72's avatar

I think that based on this, even though it is disputed, the only example of a naked singularity is the big bang.

marinelife's avatar

<—Completely not getting the reference to “indencent” in this question.

Jayne's avatar

@Marina naked singularities?

scamp's avatar

Yeah, but since when is naked indecent????

eponymoushipster's avatar

@scamp that singularity was asking for it, if you ask me.

marinelife's avatar

@Jayne Got that (not so funny), but the rest of the question seemed to be dealing with physics, although to be truthful the question is a bit of a mushy mess.

Jayne's avatar

Yeah…I think she wants to know the difference between a black hole and a naked singularity; which is, according to wikipedia is a black hole whose rotation is so rapid that its event horizon shrinks to a point infinitely close to the singularity, thus allowing light to escape from it and thereby permitting its observation. Not, of course, to imply that I have any idea why this makes sense.

DrBill's avatar

Imagine that the entire earth has been squeezed down to the size of a table tennis ball. All the mass of the earth, billions upon billions of tons, compressed into that tiny volume. The mass exerts a gravitational force so strong that light cannot escape (a concept I do not entirely support). The earth would at this point, become a “black hole.”

Although black holes have been of intense scientific interest since the late 20th century, the concept goes back to the French mathematician Pierre Simon de Laplace. In a discussion, Laplace agreed with Sir Isaac Newton that light is composed of particles. He reasoned that if enough mass was added to a star, the gravitational force of the star eventually would become so great, that nothing could escape it’s gravitational pull, not even light. The star would “blink out” and become an invisible black star.

Imagine a swimming pool, with a ripple to represent light. If the drain is opened, the water (light) escaping will be drawn back into the drain. And thereby never escaping the drain (blackhole)

Black holes exist as ultra-compressed states of matter. They were first brought into theory through the use of radio telescopes in 1967 (when they were accidentally discovered). They were called “neutron stars,” because the neutrons in the star’s core, unlike protons, do not have an electrical charge, which means they do not repel each other. Therefore, they can be tightly packed together or compressed.

The neutron star is the state of a star, just before it becomes a black hole. Before 1969, scientists thought that a neutron star was a stage in a star’s life that proved to be the ultimate stage in the compressibility of matter. They were wrong. By adding mass to an existing black hole, it would “eat” the mass, increasing its total mass, increasing the gravitational pull and become smaller and compressed even more. If the star is large enough, it would be able to contract more, and become even more dense. Then it would become a black hole.

Though, not all stars are large enough to become black holes. Black holes form during the course of stellar evolution, or the life span of a star. Atomic explosions that occur in the core of the star, let off nuclear fuels that create pressure inside. This pressure prevents the star from contracting. As the star ages, after a few million years, the atomic explosions occurring within the core of the star, stop. Nuclear fuels are no longer produced, and the pressure is, no longer able to resist the contraction of the star.

As the star contracts, it uses up the rest of it’s nuclear fuels. It does this very rapidly and the star’s brightness intensifies, and it begins to glow up to one hundred billion times as brightly as before, and it may keep doing so for several days, or even weeks (earth time). It will slowly lose its heat, and the star will collapse. It has now become a black hole.

The conventional concept of a black hole is that, of a star that has collapsed to a state of super density and becomes invisible. It does not actually become invisible, it appears as a black spot in space due to no longer reflecting or emitting light. As it travels (relative to the observer) it blocks the light from stars and the reflected light of moons and planets in the line of sight. This makes it appear as a hole in space.

In 1971, Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University in England proposed a very interesting theory. He thought that their might be “mini” black holes wandering throughout the universe as “residue” of the “Big Bang” explosion in which the universe was born. Stephen Hawking said, “That the incredibly violent turbulence following the explosion could have compressed concentrations of matter sufficiently to produce black holes of submicroscopic size.” This statement is a very intelligent thought, and in itself, thought provoking.

Stephen Hawking, although stricken by a progressive nervous disorder (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), has become one of the most brilliant and innovative theorists on black holes. Some of his thoughts on black holes are said to be bizarre by some people, and strokes of genius by his fellow scientists (I tend to believe the latter). Hawking has also proposed that stars don’t just collapse in such a manner to become black holes, but instead, may form “worm holes,” (that’s another story) or passageways to a different space and time in our, or other universes.

In his first example, Hawking has shown that a black hole is treated like a bridge that links two separate universes. In his second example, Hawking shows a black hole joining two parts of the same universe, widely separated by space and time. Both of these show how the black hole could be used as a shortcut of sorts. It is very possible that this theory could be true. The fact remains that black holes can bend or distort time and space, because of their powerful gravitational pull. Both of these are pictured in his book “A brief history of time” (pictured at the bottom of the page).

The black hole is a prison of sorts, in which matter is entombed forever. As I stated earlier, I do not support the idea of the mass of a black hole exerting a gravitational force so strong that light cannot escape it. It has been proven that gravity has an effect on light, but only in changing its direction, never has it been shown to change the speed of light.

According to the theory of relativity, light travels at a constant speed of 186,197 miles per second. If gravity prevented the light from escaping, it would have to slow the speed of light to zero, in direct violation of the theory of relativity. As an opposing theory, I suggest that the black holes gravity disrupts time space, and rather than effecting the speed of light, instead it disrupts the time continuum, stretching the light-second to infinity and trapping the light behind the event horizon. It would in fact be like forcing the light to travel in circles within the black hole.

eponymoushipster's avatar

well ....shit.

DrBill's avatar


What can I say, they ask a question about a subject I used to teach…

eponymoushipster's avatar

@DrBill no, it’s cool. i think it’s the longest answer i’ve seen on here.

DrBill's avatar


It did not seem that long while I was writing it.

augustlan's avatar

<< Gave DrBill lurve. Even though I have no idea what he’s talking about, I assume he does :)

Jayne's avatar

@DrBill; Where you say that the gravity of the black hole stretches the light-second to infinity- does that not entail the opposite of entrapment, by causing light to travel at an infinite velocity? Did you mean that it stretches the second to infinity, making the distance travelled in that second, the light-second, infinitely small without changing its velocity- or am I missing something? Also, wikipedia described a black hole as infinitely dense; from your answer I gather that this is not the case? Or does the same distortion of time that traps light also give the black hole an infinitely small volume (as spatial dimension is, I presume, defined in light-seconds, so an infinitely small light-second would entail that the area of distortion be infinitely small, or so I imagine). GA, by the way.

DrBill's avatar

Where you say that the gravity of the black hole stretches the light-second to infinity- does that not entail the opposite of entrapment, by causing light to travel at an infinite velocity?

It stretches the second to infinity. Distance=velocity X time, so if distance stays constant and time = infinity then velocity must = zero.

Did you mean that it stretches the second to infinity, making the distance travelled in that second, the light-second, infinitely small without changing its velocity

yes, exactly. velocity is measured in the distance covered within a certain time, so if the time last forever, the distance traveled will be zero, no matter what the velocity is. Therefore, if velocity were anything except zero, it would eventually reach another point, so if distance is greater than zero and velocity is greater than zero time cannot be infinite.

Jayne's avatar

Cool. Thanks again for the very readable explanation!

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