Hubeny's 1998 paper got a lot of people interested in determining whether cosmic censorship can be violated by dropping too much charge onto a black hole. It suggested that you might be able to get a naked singularity from generic initial conditions rather than requiring infinitely fine-tuned initial conditions as in the 1997 example by Choptuik.

The only more recent information I've seen about this was a video of a talk by Eric Poisson in 2011. In that talk, Poisson generalized Hubeny's work to spinning black holes, and claimed that his group had made progress on technical issues involved in computing the self-force on a test charge. Hubeny and others in the field had recognized the self-force issue and had realized that it made it impossible to reach firm conclusions about cosmic censorship.

In 2011, Poisson seemed to be optimistic that he'd be able to prove fairly soon that Hubeny's scenario wouldn't actually go.

My question is, what is the current state of research on this topic?

Hubeny, "Overcharging a Black Hole and Cosmic Censorship," 1998, http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9808043

Related but different: What prevents the accumulation of charge in a black hole? That question asked for a general explanation of what the mechanism was that would prevent overcharging. Mine is asking for specific information on a recent research program.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Great question. I'm curious about the answer to this one, too. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 22:26
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    $\begingroup$ If you overcharge one, it's certain to demand a refund. $\endgroup$
    – twistor59
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ You can't say that it has not got attention.See the vote count! $\endgroup$
    – ABC
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ Related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/6650/2451 , physics.stackexchange.com/q/15517/2451 and links therein. $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 4:53
  • $\begingroup$ Most of the work on this particular question assumes the point-particle approximation, i.e. they don't actually perturb the Einstein equations (through a self consistent matching of the perturbed Faraday tensor with the perturbed metric in the spin-1 case) but just look at geodesic-type approximations. There is also the problem of black holes in complete isolation -- such situations do not actually occur, and there will be some statistics associated with whatever particles come into contact with the black hole. There is a really interesting paper by Page (and maybe Thorne was on it?) ... $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 5:05

1 Answer 1


Zimmerman, Vega, Poisson, and Haas published a paper on exactly that topic just this February. Having read this paper, it's not definitive proof that such overcharging cannot occur, but it's a strong argument for that position. If you don't have access to Physical Review, then you can get a copy of the the paper from the arXiv.

These articles referenced in the above 2013 paper are also highly relevant: 1 2 3. In particular, 3 is written as if to decapitate the idea of overcharging a black hole; it contains the following: "... we conclude that there is no supporting evidence that indicates the violation of the cosmic censorship in the proposed overcharging process."

I checked all other recent papers with E. Poisson as coauthor. These ones are related, but not on exactly your question: 4 5 6 7.

I did this lit survey using the ISI Web of Knowledge; you can get access to it via a research institute or university network, if you have access to one. Free versions of all of the papers linked above can be found on the arXiv:1 2 3 4 5 6 7.

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    $\begingroup$ The Isoyama paper is here on arxiv: arxiv.org/abs/1108.6207 $\endgroup$
    – user4552
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 3:54

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