US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — A scientist from the United States has received data that threatens to turn ideas about the evolution of the universe.
Most cosmologists agree that, on the largest scale, the universe is homogeneous. In other words, all quite large areas of space (from hundreds of millions to billions of light years in diameter) are similar to each other like two drops of water.
Lior Shamir from the University of Kansas, having processed a huge array of observational data, showed that this is not so.
The researcher was interested in the question in which direction the spiral galaxies that we can observe from the Earth rotate. Recall that such star systems resemble disks rotating around its axis. They can rotate both clockwise and against it (when viewed from the north pole of the galaxy). Of course, when viewed from the south pole, the direction of rotation is the opposite.
An Earth observer can take a fairly large area of the sky and compare the number of galaxies rotating in it clockwise and against it. Moreover, if the Universe is really homogeneous on a large scale, both must be equally divided. And it will not depend on where exactly one or another selected area is located. In a homogeneous cosmos there should not be vast regions populated mainly by “left” or “right” star systems.
However, the facts seem to indicate otherwise. Shamir analyzed observational data on more than 200 thousand spiral galaxies collected in the SDSS and Pan-STARRS surveys , and received unexpected results.
First of all, when viewed from Earth, the number of “left” and “right” star systems differs by about 2%. This difference may seem small. But when it comes to hundreds of thousands of galaxies, it is highly unlikely that this is an accident. According to Shamir, the probability of such a coincidence is one in four billion.
Moreover, this asymmetry increases with distance from the Earth, that is, when observing an ever earlier Universe.
Let’s explain. Light from the farthest of the studied galaxies reached the Earth’s telescopes for four billion years. This means that astronomers see a similar star system as it was four billion years ago. (Recall that the age of the universe is 13.8 billion years.)
Thus, observing distant objects, we look into the ever more distant past of space. And it seems that when the world was younger, the difference between the number of “left” and “right” galaxies was even greater than now.
But the point is not only that there are different numbers of both. They are also complexly distributed across the sky. According to the expert’s calculations, this distribution has a quadrupole (four-pole) structure.
“If the Universe has an axis, then this is not just a single axis, like a carousel,” says Shamir. “This is a complex alignment of several axes, which, in addition, has a certain drift.”
According to the author’s calculations, this structure could not appear in the observational data due to the random superposition of noise. In almost all studied regions of the sky, its statistical significance is not less than three sigma. And this means that the probability of such an accident is less than 0.3%.
Interestingly, astronomers have already observed global asymmetry in the Universe associated with the distribution of CMB radiation . But this data could also be an error generated, for example, by the background radiation of the Milky Way.
New data of a fundamentally different kind. Of course, there are many factors that influence how many spiral galaxies we see in a particular part of the sky. For example, dust clouds that absorb their radiation can be located somewhere.
But all these effects should affect all, without exception, galaxies, regardless of the direction in which they rotate. It is very difficult to imagine what kind of a factor obstructing observations could “prefer” stellar systems with a certain direction of rotation.
In addition, it is important that the study used data from two different surveys, and they gave the same result.
“There are no errors or noises that could manifest themselves through such unique, complex and consistent models,” Shamir insists. “We have two different views of the sky, showing the same structure, even when the [observed] galaxies are completely different. There are no mistakes that can lead to this. Such is the Universe in which we live. Such is our home.”
The researcher reported on his results at the 236th symposium of the American Astronomical Society ( 236 th American Astronomical Society meeting ).
Of course, the conclusions of Shamir should be carefully checked by independent experts. Only then will it be possible to speak with confidence about the discovery.
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