Puzzled physicists is the most detailed map of dark matter in the universe.
An international team of researchers has created the largest and most detailed map of the distribution in the universe of what is called Dark matter.
The results are surprising because they appear to be much smoother and more ubiquitous than current theories.
The observation appears to deviate from Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which poses a puzzle to the researchers.
The results were published this week by the Dark Energy Survey consortium.
The result was, said Niall Jeffrey, of École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, who made the map A “real problem” of physics.
“If this disparity is correct, it may be that Einstein was wrong,” Jeffrey told the BBC.
“You might think that’s a bad thing, and maybe physics is useless. But for a physicist, it’s very exciting. That means that We can discover something new about what the universe really looks like“.
Professor Carlos Frenk of Durham University (UK), one of the scientists who has drawn on the work of Einstein and others to develop the current cosmological theory, said that the news leaves him with mixed feelings.
He said, “I spent my life working on this theory and my heart is telling me I don’t want to see it collapse. But my mind is telling me that the measurements were correct and that we have to consider the possibility of new physics.” .
“Then my stomach contracts, because we don’t have a solid base to explore because we don’t have a theory of physics to guide us. This makes me very tense and it scares me, because we are entering a completely unknown world and who knows what? Who we will find.”
The Dark Matter Mystery
Dark matter is an invisible substance that permeates space. It makes up 80% of the matter in the universe.
Astronomers were able to figure out its location because it distorts light from distant stars: the greater the distortion, the greater the concentration of dark matter.
Using the Víctor M. Blanco telescope, located at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, the team analyzed 100 million galaxies.
The new map shows how dark matter is spreading across the universe.
Black regions are vast areas of nowhere, called voids, where the laws of physics can be different.
The dark matter is concentrated in the bright areas.
They are called “auras” because the reality in the middle is where our reality is.
Between them are galaxies, such as our own, the Milky Way, that shine like little jewels in a vast cosmic network.
According to Dr. Geoffrey, who is also part of a department at University College London, the map clearly shows that galaxies are part of a larger invisible structure.
“No one in human history has been able to look into space and see where dark matter is at this level. Astronomers were able to create images of small spots, but we unveiled large new areas that reveal much of their structure. For the first time, we can see the universe differently.”
But the new dark matter map does not show what astronomers expected.
Experts have an accurate idea of the distribution of matter 350,000 years after the Big Bang, thanks to an orbiting ESA observatory called Planck.
Planck measured the radiation that was still present at the time, known as the microwave background radiation or, more poetically, “the glow of creation.”
Building on Einstein’s ideas, astronomers such as Professor Frink developed a model to calculate how matter was dispersed in the next 13.8 billion years from the present.
However, current observations of the new map differ by a small percentage and show that the matter is distributed slightly more evenly.
As a result, Frink believes that major changes in our understanding of the universe may be in the future.
“We might have discovered something really basic about the fabric of the universe. The current theory is based on very incomplete columns made of sand. What we might see is the collapse of one of these columns.”
But others, such as Professor Ofer Lahav of University College London, have a more conservative view.
“The big question is whether or not Einstein’s theory is perfect,” Lahav says. “It seems to pass every test with some aberrations here and there. The astrophysics of galaxies may need only a few adjustments.”
“In the history of cosmology, there are examples where problems disappeared, but also examples where the mindset changed. It would be great to see if the current tension in cosmology will lead to a new paradigm shift.”
The Dark Energy Observatory consortium brings together 400 scientists from 25 institutions in seven countries.