On the outskirts of creation, unknown, unseen "structures" are tugging on our universe like cosmic magnets, a controversial new study says.
Everything in the known universe is said to be racing toward the massive clumps of matter at more than 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers) an hour — a movement the researchers have dubbed dark flow.
The presence of the extra-universal matter suggests that our universe is part of something bigger — a multiverse — and that whatever is out there is very different from the universe we know, according to study leader Alexander Kashlinsky, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
The theory could rewrite the laws of physics. Current models say the known, or visible, universe — which extends as far as light could have traveled since the big bang—is essentially the same as the rest of space-time (the three dimensions of space plus time).
...The newfound flow cannot be explained by, and is not directly related to, the expansion of the universe... Kashlinsky says to picture yourself floating in the middle of a vast ocean. As far as the eye can see, the ocean is smooth and the same in every direction, just as most astronomers believe the universe is. You would think that beyond the horizon, therefore, nothing is different.
"But then you discover a faint but coherent flow in your ocean," Kashlinsky said. "You would deduce that the entire cosmos is not exactly like what you can see within your own horizon."
There must be an out-of-sight mountain river or ravine pushing or pulling the water. Or in the cosmological case, Kashlinsky speculates that "this motion is caused by structures well beyond the current cosmological horizon, which is more than 14 billion light-years away."
They simply wanted to confirm the longstanding notion that the farther away galaxies are, the slower their motion should appear... Instead, Kashlinsky said, "We found a great surprise."
The clusters were all moving at the same speed — nearly 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers) an hour — and in a single direction... To explain the unexplainable flow, the team turned to the longstanding theory that rapid inflation just after the big bang had pushed chunks of matter beyond the known universe...
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