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Black holes may dodge the speeding "bullets" that would otherwise strip them naked – and pose problems for Einstein's theory of general relativity.

The finding is good news for physicist Stephen Hawking, who has wagered that such naked singularities are a physical impossibility.

The event horizon surrounding a black hole means nothing, not even light, escapes. But in 2009, physicists Ted Jacobson and Thomas Sotiriou at the University of Maryland at College Park calculated that, under some circumstances, an incoming particle might cause a spinning black hole to rotate so fast that this horizon is destroyed, allowing light to escape.

The trouble is, the theory of general relativity and other laws of classical physics break down around the resulting "naked singularity".

Now Enrico Barausse, also at the University of Maryland in College Park, and his colleagues reckon that such incoming particles needn't strip spinning black holes.

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Category: Science