DEFINITION of 'Orphan Block (Cryptocurrency)'

Orphan blocks are those blocks which are not accepted into the blockchain network due to a time lag in the acceptance of the block in question into the blockchain as compared to the other qualifying block. Orphan blocks are valid and verified blocks, but are rejected ones. They are also called detached blocks as they exist in isolation from the blockchain.

BREAKING DOWN 'Orphan Block (Cryptocurrency)'

A blockchain consists of a series of blocks, which act as data storage units to store details of the various transactions occurring on the blockchain network. During the standard mining process, miners attempt to generate new blocks. The first miner who is successful in finding a new block is entitled to the block reward, and writes the first transaction for the same on the new block he/she has found. As a part of the blockchain working, the newly found block gets added as the new unit on the blockchain.

However, it is possible that two miners produce a block at a similar time. This situation occurs because the acceptance of the blocks into the blockchain by the nodes of the blockchain network does not happen instantaneously. This time lag in accepting a block may lead to another miner solving for the same exact block. It leads to a temporary mix-up on the blockchain network, as the nodes try to decide which block of the two newly identified blocks to continue with.

In such a situation, the block with the larger share of proof of work (POW) gets accepted into the blockchain. The other block, with smaller proof of work, is discarded from getting added to the blockchain and is termed as an orphan block. Such blocks are essentially valid and verified blocks, but due to network’s working mechanism and lag time leading to delayed acceptance, one of the found blocks is rejected, or orphaned.

Another way an orphaned block is created is when a hacker with sufficient hashing power attempts to reverse a few transactions that occurred earlier on the blockchain network.

Orphan blocks are most commonly linked to the popular Bitcoin cryptocurrency network. In case, if any valid transactions exist on an orphan block, they are added to the next valid block accepted on the blockchain.

Common block explorers, like Bitcoin Block Explorer, provide detailed information about the orphaned blocks, which are available online. (See also, Block Explorer.)

RELATED TERMS
  1. Block Order

    A block order is a large order placed for sale or purchase of ...
  2. Blocked Currency

    A blocked currency is one which can not be traded on the forex ...
  3. Bitcoin Mining, Explained

    Breaking down everything you need to know about Bitcoin Mining, ...
  4. Block Header (Cryptocurrency)

    A block header is the unique identity of a particular block on ...
  5. Blocked Period

    Blocked period refers to a length of time in which an investor’s ...
  6. Block Positioner

    A block positioner is a securities dealer who will take a long ...
Related Articles
  1. Trading

    Bitcoin Cash: The New King of Cryptocurrency?

    Investors are wondering if the popularity of Bitcoin Cash poses a serious threat to the Bitcoin throne.
  2. Tech

    What is the Genesis Block in Bitcoin Terms?

    Learn more about the Genesis Block, the original Bitcoin block.
  3. Tech

    What is a Distributed Ledger?

    Blockchain technology has come a long way from the obscure corners of the web it was once confined to. But what is it? And what about nonces, hashes and ledgers?
  4. Investing

    H&R Block Stock: Time to Consider Selling?

    The tax prep company's shares are up 33.6% YTD. Is it time to take gains, or do fundamentals support the new valuation?
  5. Tech

    Forget Bitcoin: Blockchain is the Future

    Blockchain is the technology that undergirds the cryptocurrency world, but itspotential uses extend much farther.
  6. Tech

    Why You Shouldn't Ignore Cryptocurrencies

    There are three big reasons why cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology they are built on should be taken seriously.
  7. Tech

    JP Morgan's Blockchain Trial Project

    A glance at JP Morgan's blockchain trial in association with Digital Asset Holdings.
  8. Tech

    Bitcoin Unlimited Thwarted, Again!

    Bitcoin Unlimited is vying for supremacy in the Game of Bitcoins, but it's got some problems.
  9. Tech

    Blockchain: The Backbone of Finance's Entire Future

    What is blockchain, and why is it now being used for everything from tracking loans to authenticating diamond purchases?
  10. Tech

    How Do Blockchain ETFs Work?

    Investopedia explores how blockchain ETFs work and the risks associated with such theme-based investments.
RELATED FAQS
  1. If I reject the tender offer for acquisition of the stock that I own in a company ...

    Since the passing of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a significant number of public companies have chosen to go private. The reasons ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center