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    A characterization of the central shell-focusing singularity in spherical gravitational collapse

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    We give a characterization of the central shell-focusing curvature singularity that can form in the spherical gravitational collapse of a bounded matter distribution obeying the dominant energy condition. This characterization is based on the limiting behaviour of the mass function in the neighbourhood of the singularity. Depending on the rate of growth of the mass as a function of the area radius R, the singularity may be either covered or naked. The singularity is naked if this growth rate is slower than R, covered if it is faster than R, and either naked or covered if the growth rate is same as R.Comment: 12 pages, Latex, significantly revised version, including change of title. Revised version to appear in Classical and Quantum Gravit