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.
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.
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.