Astronomers observing star clusters in our galaxy have found evidence that controversially defies Newton’s laws of gravity and could upend our understanding of the universe. This tantalizing finding may support a controversial idea that eliminates dark matter entirely.
The researchers found this evidence by observing open star clusters, or tightly bound clusters of up to a few hundred stars that reside within larger galaxies. Open star clusters have trails of stars, known as “tidal tails,” in front of and behind them. The researchers’ observations indicate that such clusters contain more stars sitting in the general direction of their travel through space than behind them. This casts doubt on Newton’s law of universal gravitation, which suggests that there must be the same number of stars in both tidal tails.
“It is critical,” the astrophysicist said Pavel Krupa From the University of Bonn for Live Science. “There is a huge impact.”
Kroupa is the lead author Study published Oct. 26 In Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society arguing that the observations are evidence of modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND) – an alternative theory of gravity to Newton’s widely accepted universal law of gravitation.
This uneven distribution of stars is notable, but not sufficient for any type dark matter An invisible substance believed to exert a strong gravitational force on the visible universe issue – To be involved, said Kroupa.
“This is basically a game changer,” he said. “This destroys all the work done on galaxies and cosmology [that] It assumes the existence of dark matter and Newtonian gravity.
Isaac Newton’s Law of Universal Gravity, published in 1687, states that every particle in the universe attracts each other with a force proportional to its mass and inversely proportional to the square of the distance. Albert Einstein later incorporated this law into his general theory Relativitywhich was published in 1915.
But Kroupa said that at the time of both Newton and Einstein, astronomers didn’t know galaxies existed, so MOND was developed to update it with observations.
MOND, also known as Milgromian dynamics after the astrophysicist Mordecai Milgrom Developed in the early 1980s, he argues that ordinary Newtonian dynamics does not apply to very large scales of galaxies and galaxy clusters — although most astrophysicists believe it does.
Kroupa said the main result of MOND is the absence of dark matter — an idea most astrophysicists reject. “The majority of scholars completely reject Almond,” he said. “A lot of serious scientists don’t think Mond is serious, and so they wouldn’t consider looking at him.”
In their study, the authors report observations of five of the closest open star clusters to Earth, including the Hyades – a roughly spherical group of hundreds of stars only about 150 light-years from our sun.
The researchers noted that stars accumulated in the main tidal tail in all five groups, while the greatest discrepancy from normal Newtonian dynamics was observed in the Hyades group, where there are better measurements, Kroupa said.
The observed discrepancies reinforce the MOND case, but they cannot be the result of the invisible action of dark matter.
In the case of HAIDES, he said, “we would have to have a mass of dark matter in there like 10 million solar masses” to explain the results. “But it’s not just in the data.”
He said future studies will use more accurate data on the positions of stars from new space telescopes, such as the European Space Agency’s Gaia.
However, because MOND is not widely accepted by many scientists, the new study’s findings are controversial.
Sabine HosseinfelderThe astrophysicist at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies told Live Science in an email that she was pleased to see the researchers working on gravitational simulations for MOND.
But “as the paper themselves admit, they use a rough calculation which needs confirmation… [and] “They didn’t quantify the difference with the data,” she said. “So I think it remains to be seen how good this argument actually is.”
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