As I understand it, the TNG-era Romulan Warbird is powered by an artificial quantum singularity - a synthetic black hole.

When such a ship is taken out of commission or the power source is replaced, what do you do with a spent artificial black hole? Is it stored, or dismantled or something else?

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    This is indeed many questions in one, which is frowned upon on Stack Exchange sites. You seem to be asking two separate questions (one about unplanned failure and one about planned maintenance), so you should probably split this in two. – KutuluMike Feb 3 '13 at 7:11
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    Quantum black holes are pretty well-defined physical objects, but there would have to be more information about the size of the hole and the nature of containment before failure scenarios could be worked out. – Kyle Jones Feb 3 '13 at 8:34
  • I've reworded the question and removed some of the more speculative elements. VTR – Valorum Oct 7 '15 at 10:02

You may not be aware of this but singularities evaporate which means that for 'practical' purposes they simply disappear unless they're continually fed matter. Thus there is no such thing as a 'spent' black hole the way there is with a 'spent' nuclear fuel rod.

From the same page:

Unlike most objects, a black hole's temperature increases as it radiates away mass. The rate of temperature increase is exponential, with the most likely endpoint being the dissolution of the black hole in a violent burst of gamma rays

So if there was a containment failure the most likely thing to happen (unless the Romulan engineers have a penchant for designing power systems that are deadlier to the user than their enemies) is an 'explosion' of gamma rays and possibly other radiation.

This would probably be similar in level of effect to a warp core breach on a Federation starship.

  • Small singularities evaporate. Larger ones pull in more than enough matter to break even. Besides, even if the big ones were scuttled somewhere that they would not be able to do that, they would take so long to evaporate that this would be worthless from a practical viewpoint. – John O Feb 3 '13 at 21:41
  • Correct but if you were designing a starship power source which option would you go for? – user11154 Feb 3 '13 at 21:42
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    As long as you keep using it the singularity will go indefinitely, so move it to the new, better ship. If the Romulans reuse singularities fr new ships instead of creating new ones it would make upgrading their fleet very inexpensive, but expensive to expand. – Tyson of the Northwest Feb 10 '13 at 18:52
  • Fascinating discussion, all. And thank you for the info on quantum singularities. I did not know singularities evaporate. And thanks for dealing with my many-questions-in-one. They seemed related and I wanted to combine the discussion. Thanks again! – Obliteron_Nebula Feb 17 '13 at 6:53
  • In the event that containment failed unexpectedly (such as during a battle) the black hole would probably "eat" the remains of the ship before evaporating. It may even damage surrounding vessels before its death, depending on the vectors of the parties involved. – Xantec Oct 7 '15 at 16:54

In the trek novel Badlands 2, Captain Janeway encounters a "free-range" artificial quantum singularity:

No wonder they couldn’t find the source of the tetryon shockwaves. The AQS must be moving much faster than the speed of light, at nearly warp 10. It would be impossible for sensors to detect until it was on top of them and already gone in its tremendous orbit. The subspace shockwave would therefore dissipate quickly, less than two hundred million kilometers away from the source. Any ships unlucky enough to be close to it when it passed by would suffer a lapse in gravity, sensor overload, and disruption of the power circuits. And the passage of tetryons through the ship would cause radiation poisoning in the crew members.

Since the singularities are apparently quite valuable and not (at least in theory) prone to the effects of aging, I think we can reasonably assume that singularities that are no longer needed in one vessel are simply returned to the dockyard to be re-implanted into new ships.

  • That's not canon tho' – Gaius Oct 7 '15 at 11:27
  • @gaius - Paramount-licensed novels are canon, just at a lower level than the TV series or films. – Valorum Oct 7 '15 at 11:56

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