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Think Again

New Map of Dark Matter Breaks Scientists’ Understanding of Physics

"The results appear to challenge current understanding of the fundamental laws of physics."

Jon ChristianFebruary 13th 2019

Dark Matter

Scientists have created a vast new map that explores how structures of dark matter have grown during the life of the universe — and they claim it could upend the current understanding of physics.

“If further data shows we’re definitely right, then it suggests something is missing from our current understanding of the Standard Model and the general theory of relativity,” Kavli Institute physicist Chiaki Hikage said in a press release.

Current Model

Hikage and colleagues analyzed images of 10 million galaxies taken with the 870 megapixel Subaru telescope in Hawaii.

The light from some of the galaxies traveled for billions of years to reach Earth, which let the researchers assemble a map of dark matter starting in the universe’s early days — they just had to look at how its gravitational force bent the light.

What they found was surprising. The new map, published on the preprint server arXiv, suggests that the huge structure of dark matter in the universe formed more slowly that previously believed — results that “appear to challenge current understanding of the fundamental laws of physics,” according to the press release.

Road Ahead

But before physicists throw out the rulebook, Hikage cautioned that the new map needs to be corroborated.

“With a little more work, if we can get better accuracy, we might be able to find something concrete,” he said in the press release. “This is a big motivating factor for me.”

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