Another universe tugging on ours? Maybe not, researchers say

Apr 14, 2011
Image credit: Hubble/NASA

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study from the University at Buffalo contradicts the dark flow theory, showing that exploding stars in different parts of the universe do not appear to be moving in sync. Working with data on 557 such stars, called supernovae, UB scientists deduced that while the supernovae closest to Earth all shared a common motion in one direction, supernovae further out were heading somewhere else. An article announcing the research results will appear in a forthcoming edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.

In 2008, a research team led by a NASA scientist announced a startling discovery: Clusters of galaxies far apart from one another appeared to be traveling in the same direction.

The findings contradicted the standard model of the universe, which predicts that, as a whole, mass within our universe should flow randomly, in all directions, relative to the of the cosmos.

The one-way "dark flow" that the NASA-led group discovered created a mystery. What could account for the unexpected motion? Maybe another universe existed beyond the bounds of ours, dragging our ever closer through the pull of .

Then again, maybe not.

A new study from the University at Buffalo contradicts the dark flow theory, showing that in different parts of the universe do not appear to be moving in sync.

Working with data on 557 such stars, called , UB scientists deduced that while the supernovae closest to Earth all shared a common motion in one direction, supernovae further out were heading somewhere else. The difference in motion became pronounced for stars 680 million or more light years away from Earth.

An article announcing the research results will appear in a forthcoming edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Cosmology and .

Though the findings disagree with the "dark flow" hypothesis, they coincide with the predictions of another model of the universe: Lambda-Cold Dark Matter, the of cosmology.

"Our result is boring, in a way, because it matches your expectation for the standard cosmological model," said UB physicist William Kinney. "If it turns out that the NASA team led by Alexander Kashlinsky is right, it would be exciting because there would be some crazy thing going on that nobody understood. There would have to be something very radical, like a big mass outside of our universe that's pulling on stuff inside our universe. That would be big news."

"But our data do not match theirs," Kinney continued. "With our study, we're muddying the water. It's not yet clear who is right. We have to do more figuring to build up a more detailed and accurate picture of the ."

Kinney, an associate professor, completed the study on supernovae with De-Chang Dai, a UB postdoctoral researcher who has since joined the University of Cape Town, and Dejan Stojkovic, an assistant professor of physics at UB.

The supernova data the team used to complete their study came from the Union2 data set, which the Supernova Cosmology Project at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released in 2010. Though Union2 incorporates astronomical observations from different telescopes and different times, the data set controls carefully for systematic bias and serves as a useful check for the possible presence of systematic errors in the work of Kashlinsky and others, Kinney said.

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User comments : 8

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xamien
5 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2011
He's right, it -is- more boring. But if it's accurate...
ZephirAWT
Apr 14, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
JamesThomas
5 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2011
Interesting how the direction of supernova seems to correlate with the distance from where the phenomena is observed (in this case earth). Why would this be?
jonnyboy
5 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2011
like these guys think that there is only ONE other universe out there that could be tugging at ours?
PinkElephant
4.5 / 5 (4) Apr 14, 2011
Interesting how the direction of supernova seems to correlate with the distance from where the phenomena is observed (in this case earth). Why would this be?
The closer things are together, the more similar their trajectories through intergalactic space.

Correlated motion on scales of hundreds of megaparsecs results from primordial inhomogeneities within spacetime, going back to the era of Inflation. Small inhomogeneities got inflated into large structures, and the same inflation also smoothed out the gradient of inhomogeneity. Inflation stretched out the narrow and tall peaks and valleys in mass/energy distributions and momenta of the pre-inflation quantum foam, so we end up with very wide but shallow ones. As a result, on smaller (megaparsec) scales you end up with fairly similar values (after ignoring noise), on larger (hundreds of megaparsecs) scales you observe smoothly changing values, and this cumulative change becomes dramatic by the time you get to gigaparsecs.
maxcypher
not rated yet Apr 14, 2011
Pink's got it: totally understandable. Notice that it doesn't require another universe... tuggin' on ours.
frajo
5 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2011
The notion of "another universe", "dragging our stars ever closer through the pull of gravity" is very shoddy language.
If there is any interaction (for instance a dragging pull of gravity) between different regions of spacetime then these regions belong to one and the same universe.
The assumption of the existence of another universe is non-falsifiable and therefore non-scientific.
frajo
not rated yet Apr 15, 2011
Inflation stretched out the narrow and tall peaks and valleys in mass/energy distributions and momenta of the pre-inflation quantum foam
Unfortunately, the notions of inflation and pre-inflationary quantum foam are just non-falsifiable constructs to simulate an explanation for several otherwise unexplainable observations. They just replace problems like the homogeneity problem, the inhomogeneity problem, and the flatness problem by problems like a near-zero entropy beginning of spacetime, the existence of an inflationary energy with quite specially fine-tuned properties, and the existence of a magical ingredient called Dark Energy.
lengould100
not rated yet Apr 15, 2011
It's all simply evidence of problems with our present over-simple theories and equations of the force we call gravity.

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