Dark Energy and Dark Matter – The Results of Flawed Physics?

Sep 11, 2006 feature
Best fit theoretical rotation curves superimposed on data (dotted lines) from galaxy “NGC 4455” (left) and galaxy “NGC 5023” (right). The solid line is the curve predicted by the new gravity model. Also shown are the Newtonian curve (short dashes) and the Newtonian curve corrected for dark matter (long dashes).

There are few scientific concepts as intriguing and mysterious as dark energy and dark matter, said to make up as much as 95 percent of all the energy and matter in the universe. And even though scientists don't know what either is and have little evidence to prove they exist, dark energy and dark matter are two of the biggest research problems in physics.

But what if they were conceived in error?

This is what three Italian physicists have recently asked. In a paper in the August 3 online edition of the Institute of Physics' peer-reviewed Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, they put forth the idea that scientists were forced to propose the existence of dark energy and dark matter because they were, and still are, working with incorrect gravitational theory.

The group suggests an alternative theory of gravity in which dark energy and dark matter are effects – illusions, in a sense – created by the curvature of spacetime (the bending of space and time caused by extremely massive objects, like galaxies). Their theory does not require the existence of dark energy and dark matter.

“Our proposal implies that the 'correct' theory of gravity may be one based solely on directly observed astronomical data,” said lead author Salvatore Capozziello, a theoretical physicist at the University of Naples, to PhysOrg.com.

Dark energy and dark matter were originally conceived to explain, respectively, the accelerating expansion of the universe (despite the tendency of gravity to push matter together) and the discrepancy between the amount of matter scientists expect to observe in the universe but have not yet found. Astronomers suggested the existence of dark matter when they noticed something odd about spiral galaxies: Stars at the middle and edge of a spiral galaxy rotate just as fast as stars near the very center. But according to Newtonian mechanics (the physics of bodies in motion), stars further away from the galactic center should rotate more slowly. Scientists thus assumed that some sort of “dark” matter, not observable by emitted light, must be boosting the total gravity of the galaxy, giving the stars extra rotational speed.

“We can show that no 'exotic' ingredients have to be added to fill the gap between theory and observations,” said Capozziello.

In their paper, he and his co-authors demonstrate this using data from 15 well-studied galaxies. Among this data was each galaxy's “rotation curve,” a graph that plots the rotational speed of the stars in the galaxy as a function of their distance from the galaxy's center. These curves were successfully fit to curves produced using the new theory. Since these 15 galaxies are believed to be dominated by dark matter, fitting their rotation curves using this new gravity model is strong evidence to support an alternative theory of gravity.

Despite this, the notion that dark matter and dark energy are “wrong” is potentially very unpopular. Capozziello and his colleagues are aware that a new theory of gravity impacts the dynamics of the universe as scientists now understand them.

“Any extended theories of gravity must be tested on all the astrophysical scales, ranging from the Solar System to galaxies to galaxy clusters, and all of cosmology,” said Capozziello. “Performing these tests is the cornerstone of our research program.”

Citation: J. Cosmol. Astropart. Phys. 08 (2006) 001.

By Laura Mgrdichian, Copyright 2006 PhysOrg.com

Explore further: New filter could advance terahertz data transmission

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cultivation of microalgae via an innovative technology

Feb 27, 2015

Preliminary laboratory scale studies have shown consistent biomass production and weekly a thick microalgal biofilm could be harvested. A new and innovative harvesting device has been developed for ALGADISK able to directly ...

Top-precision optical atomic clock starts ticking

Feb 26, 2015

A state-of-the-art optical atomic clock, collaboratively developed by scientists from the University of Warsaw, Jagiellonian University, and Nicolaus Copernicus University, is now "ticking away" at the National ...

Monster black hole discovered at cosmic dawn

Feb 25, 2015

Scientists have discovered the brightest quasar in the early universe, powered by the most massive black hole yet known at that time. The international team led by astronomers from Peking University in China ...

Recommended for you

Breakthrough in OLED technology

4 hours ago

Organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are made from carbon-containing materials, have the potential to revolutionize future display technologies, making low-power displays so thin they'll wrap or fold ...

Throwing light on a mysterious human 'superpower'

7 hours ago

Most people, at some point in their lives, have dreamt of being able to fly like Superman or develop superhuman strength like the Hulk. But very few know that we human beings have a "superpower" of our own, ...

New filter could advance terahertz data transmission

Feb 27, 2015

University of Utah engineers have discovered a new approach for designing filters capable of separating different frequencies in the terahertz spectrum, the next generation of communications bandwidth that ...

The super-resolution revolution

Feb 27, 2015

Cambridge scientists are part of a resolution revolution. Building powerful instruments that shatter the physical limits of optical microscopy, they are beginning to watch molecular processes as they happen, ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Arthur_Dent
1 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2009
The flaw in their new theory, is that
at least 1 pair of galaxies in collision have shown that dark-mass didn't collide,
but simply passed-through the colliding galaxy,
so the result was
dark-mass/colided-matter-of-2-galaxies/dark-mass.

I believe they used lensing to nail that one, and it was either here on physorg or over on newscientist where that article was posted ( here, I think ).

Their nice "erases dark-mass" theory would have to explain that kind of colision and its lensing, wouldn't it?

Also, there is at least 1 galaxy we've studied that hasn't /got/ dark-matter, so its stars swirl newtonianly.

How would they explain that?

I believe their theory is broken, but don't have the brains to /know/.

Cheers,
smiffy
4 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2009
Also, there is at least 1 galaxy we've studied that hasn't /got/ dark-matter, so its stars swirl newtonianly.
Do you have a reference for this galaxy?
Dvmx
not rated yet Apr 20, 2009
NGC 4736
http://www.newsci.../dn13280

By the way, the "enlarge image" option for the plotlines picture is not working!
Myria83
1 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2009
The flaw in their new theory, is that



at least 1 pair of galaxies in collision have shown that dark-mass didn't collide,





but simply passed-through the colliding galaxy,



so the result was



dark-mass/colided-matter-of-2-galaxies/dark-mass.







I believe they used lensing to nail that one, and it was either here on physorg or over on newscientist where that article was posted ( here, I think ).







Their nice "erases dark-mass" theory would have to explain that kind of colision and its lensing, wouldn't it?







Also, there is at least 1 galaxy we've studied that hasn't /got/ dark-matter, so its stars swirl newtonianly.







How would they explain that?







I believe their theory is broken, but don't have the brains to /know/.







Cheers,











Could you specify?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.