Defining an Orphan Block

An orphan block is a valid block that doesn’t form part of the primary blockchain.

It’s alternatively referred to as a stale or detached block.

Several factors can lead to the creation of orphaned blocks, including internet delay, blockchain length, block size, and the node‘s processing speed containing the blockchain.

All these factors can lead to two blocks sharing the same timestamp, which results in the main blockchain discarding one block while incorporating the other.

Time Discrepancy in Blockchain Mining

This time discrepancy can transpire when two miners within the Bitcoin blockchain concurrently discover, resolve, and broadcast a block.

Given the abovementioned factors, different nodes perceive these two blocks at different times.

As additional blocks appear, nodes append them to the valid chain.

The Bitcoin blockchain algorithm typically presumes the longer chain as the legitimate one.

As a result, despite being valid, one of the two blocks becomes an orphan, usually belonging to the shorter chain.

Optimizing Blockchain Consistency

Blockchain developers can minimize the incidence of orphan blocks by considering factors like propagation delay and block time.

High propagation delay and short block time on a decentralized platform increase the likelihood of orphan block formation.

It’s worth noting that an excessive number of competing blocks may also induce forks, leading to the emergence of competitive chains. Such chains can destabilize or halt decentralized networks.