Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Letter
  • Published:

Floating Orbits, Superradiant Scattering and the Black-hole Bomb


Penrose1 and Christodoulou2 have shown how, in principle, rotational energy can be extracted from a black hole by orbiting and fissioning particles. Recently, Misner3 has pointed out that waves can also extract rotational energy (“superradiant scattering” in which an impinging wave is amplified as it scatters off a rotating hole). As one application of super-radiant scattering, Misner has suggested the possible existence of “floating orbits”, that is, orbits in which a particle radiatively extracts energy from the hole at the same rate as it radiates energy to infinity; thereby it experiences zero net radiation reaction.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Penrose, R., Revista Del Nuovo Cimento, 1, 252 (1969).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Christodoulou, D., Phys. Rev. Lett., 25, 1596 (1970).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Misner, C. W., Phys. Rev. Lett., 28, 994 (1972).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Carter, B., Phys. Rev., 174, 1559 (1968).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Boyer, R. H., and Lindquist, R. W., J. Math. Phys., 8, 265 (1967).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Zel'dovich, Ya. B., JETP Lett., 14, 270 (1971).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

PRESS, W., TEUKOLSKY, S. Floating Orbits, Superradiant Scattering and the Black-hole Bomb. Nature 238, 211–212 (1972).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing