(ORDO NEWS) — Astrophysicists have observed mysterious behavior of star clusters that does not match our current understanding of gravity on a cosmic scale.
However, these observations are consistent with an alternative theory of gravity that could disprove the existence of dark matter.
“Both tails (of a star cluster) should contain approximately the same number of stars.
However, in our work, for the first time, we were able to prove that this is not the case: in the clusters we studied, the anterior tail always contains significantly more stars located in the vicinity of the cluster than the posterior tail”, said study co-author Jan Pflamm-Altenburg.
In the past, it has been difficult to determine which cluster stars belong to which tail, but researchers in a new study have developed a method to do so.
They called it the Jerabkov-compact-convergent-point (CCP) method and applied it to data on four discovered star clusters.
To their surprise, they found that in all four clusters, the leading tail contains many more stars than the trailing one, which clearly contradicts Newton’s laws, which say that stars “fall” into the tails completely by chance.
The team then modeled the movement of stars in these clusters according to another hypothesis known as Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND).
“Put simply, according to MOND, stars can leave the cluster through two different doors,” says Pavel Kroupa, first author of the study.
“One leads into the back tidal tail, the other into the front. However, the first is much narrower than the second, so the probability that the star will leave the cluster through it is less.
Newton’s theory of gravity, on the other hand, predicts that both doors should be the same width.”
Another important consequence of MOND could shock astrophysics – if it were true, then dark matter would not exist.
However, dark matter is the prevailing theory because it explains many of the observable features of the universe very well, and there is plenty of other evidence pointing to its existence.
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