The Universe defies expectations

Hubble telescope

I always feel a certain amount of glee when conventional science is turned on its head.  After all, conventional science pooh-poohs not only astrology, but also psychology and any other field of study which cannot be rigorously tested and duplicated without fail.

So naturally I love this:

Space is festooned with vast “hyperclusters” of galaxies, a new cosmic map suggests. It could mean that gravity or dark energy – or perhaps something completely unknown – is behaving very strangely indeed.

We know that the universe was smooth just after its birth. Measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB), the light emitted 370,000 years after the big bang, reveal only very slight variations in density from place to place. Gravity then took hold and amplified these variations into today’s galaxies and galaxy clusters, which in turn are arranged into big strings and knots called superclusters, with relatively empty voids in between.

On even larger scales, though, cosmological models say that the expansion of the universe should trump the clumping effect of gravity. That means there should be very little structure on scales larger than a few hundred million light years across.

But the universe, it seems, did not get the memo. Shaun Thomas of University College London (UCL), and colleagues have found aggregations of galaxies stretching for more than 3 billion light years. The hyperclusters are not very sharply defined, with only a couple of per cent variation in density from place to place, but even that density contrast is twice what theory predicts.

“This is a challenging result for the standard cosmological models,” says Francesco Sylos Labini of the University of Rome, Italy, who was not involved in the work. …

The result hints at some profound new physical phenomenon, perhaps involving – the mysterious entity that is accelerating the expansion of space. Dark energy is usually assumed to be uniform across the cosmos. If instead it can pool in some areas, then its repulsive force could push away nearby matter, creating these giant patterns.

Alternatively, we may need to extend our understanding of gravity beyond Einstein’s . “It could be that we need an even more general theory to explain how gravity works on very large scales,” says Thomas.

I love that the Universe is bigger and more complex than we can possibly imagine, and that in order to truly understand our place in it we must let go of our old, limited ideas and embrace the magic and mystery that is found everywhere around us!

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By | 2011-06-27T05:27:48+00:00 June 27th, 2011|Astronomy|3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Healing Mudras June 27, 2011 at 5:46 am

    I love this article… but i cant possibly understand what it actually means… I am fascinated by the Universe… this article does make me even more confused… is it possible for -un-conventional astronomy to speak a language we can all understand….

  2. valeryschful June 27, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I know nothing astronomy and astrology …but I can’t stop thinking about this old human habbit of thinking : Cosmogony …humanity as center of the universe …and if what appears as The Universe, would be only one of the universes …Maybe what appears as an anomaly, is just the beginning of another one …I’m always very unconfortable in thinking that infinity has a beginning and an end, and in other hand I find the idea of emptiness either more disturbing …maybe it’s just the largest box we know, which fits in a broader box …and here comes relativity again, isn’t it …
    Sorry for my limited mind, but imagination is the only tool I’ve got …until scientist explain me …on an easy way please …the basic knowledge that I don’t have the chance to have :-)…

    • lokasiwisata.info June 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      It does seem that the limits of our understanding has to keep unfolding to keep pace with the broadening of the mysteries!

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