Rotating Question Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer

What is a singularity?

Reading astronomy books, I've come up with the word "singularity" a lot, but I can't figure out what it exactly means.

A singularity means a point where some property is infinite. For example, at the center of a black hole, according to classical theory, the density is infinite (because a finite mass is compressed to a zero volume). Hence it is a singularity. Similarly, if you extrapolate the properties of the universe to the instant of the Big Bang, you will find that both the density and the temperature go to infinity, and so that also is a singularity. It must be stated that these come due to the breaking down of the classical theory. As yet, there is no theory of quantum gravity, but it is entirely possible that the singularities may be avoided with a theory of quantum gravity.

February 2002, Jagadheep D. Pandian (more by Jagadheep D. Pandian) (Like this Answer)

Still Curious?

Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:

Related questions:

More questions about General Physics: Previous | Next

More questions about Cosmology and the Big Bang: Previous | Next

More questions about Black Holes and Quasars: Previous | Next

How to ask a question:

If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.

Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist

URL: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=55
This page has been accessed 82379 times since April 29, 2002.
Last modified: June 19, 2003 7:22:26 PM

Legal questions? See our copyright, disclaimer and privacy policy.
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.

Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)