Distinguishing black holes from naked singularities through their accretion disc properties

Pankaj S. Joshi, Daniele Malafarina, Ramesh Narayan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


We show that, in principle, a slowly evolving gravitationally collapsing perfect fluid cloud can asymptotically settle to a static spherically symmetric equilibrium configuration with a naked singularity at the center. We consider one such asymptotic final configuration with a finite outer radius, and construct a toy model in which it is matched to a Schwarzschild exterior geometry. We examine the properties of circular orbits in this model. We then investigate the observational signatures of a thermal accretion disc in this spacetime, comparing them with the signatures expected for a disc around a black hole of the same mass. Several notable differences emerge. A disc around the naked singularity is much more luminous than one around an equivalent black hole. Also, the disc around the naked singularity has a spectrum with a high frequency power law segment that carries a major fraction of the total luminosity. Thus, at least some naked singularities can, in principle, be distinguished observationally from the black holes of the same mass. We discuss the possible implications of these results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number015002
JournalClassical and Quantum Gravity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 7 2014


  • black holes
  • gravitational collapse
  • naked singularity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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