Crypto Terms: Letter O

What is Orphaned Block (Orphan)?

Orphaned Block (Orphan) MEANING:
Orphaned Block (Orphan) - a valid block that is not a part of the central blockchain and has no parent block.
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Let's find out Orphaned Block (Orphan) meaning, definition in crypto, what is Orphaned Block (Orphan), and all other detailed facts.

An orphaned block (an orphan, stale block, or detached block) is a block that doesn’t have a parent block (or it is unknown). These blocks were created in earlier versions of the Bitcoin core software when network nodes could accept blocks even if they didn't have any information about their parent blocks. 

However, orphaned blocks can’t be created anymore on this blockchain after the release of Bitcoin Core v.0.10. Though the term “orphaned block” is still used to refer to a valid block that gets discarded from the main blockchain.

How does that happen? When two distinct miners transmit their legitimate blocks almost at the same time, the network splits into two competing copies of the blockchain until one of the blocks is detached. As a general rule, the longest chain wins over and the other one is abandoned.

When this happens, even though both blocks are verified and legitimate, only one of them can stay on to the main chain, which results in the creation of an orphaned block.

Now, because miners are constantly creating new blocks, there are a lot of cases when blocks are transmitted onto the network at the same moment. Since the network is decentralized, the transfer of information about these cases between nodes might take a long time. 

Thus, sometimes one group of nodes might decide to validate one block while another group might decide to validate another. This would essentially create two different versions of the same blockchain (this process is called a fork).

By factoring in propagation delay and block time, blockchain developers can limit the number of orphans. However, if the decentralized platform has a long propagation delay and a short block time, an orphaned block is likely to emerge.