by Andrew Moseman
From the January-February special issue; published online December 16, 2010
The visible edge of the universe is, by definition, the most distant thing that we can see. That does not mean it is the most distant thing we can feel, however.
According to astrophysicist Alexander Kashlinsky of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, something from way beyond the edge seems to be pulling powerfully on galaxies in our universe, yanking them along in a motion he calls “dark flow.”
Kashlinsky and his team noticed this phenomenon while studying the cosmic microwave background, radiation left over from just after the Big Bang. Giant clusters of galaxies scatter the radiation in a way that makes it possible to determine how each cluster is moving. When Kashlinsky plotted those motions, he determined that the galaxies seem to be racing in a particular direction, roughly aligned with the constellation Centaurus. The phenomenon was so unexpected that he conducted an expanded survey, looking at more and brighter galaxy clusters.
The results, released last March, not only confirm the dark flow but extend its known reach. “This motion persists as far as we can see,” Kashlinsky says.
Nothing in the known universe can account for the dark flow phenomenon. So Kashlinsky thinks the galaxies are responding to the pull of matter and energy lying beyond our cosmic horizon. That unseen stuff could be at least a thousand times farther out than the horizon and cause “a slight tilt to our universe,” he theorizes.
Kashlinsky plans to use the European Space Agency’s new Planck spacecraft to make refined measurements of the dark flow to better understand what is causing it.
On the flip side it suggests an eternal multiverse and a mechanism by which "the heavens can be rolled up as a scroll", i.e., gravity from without.
well, given our 100% failure rate at predicting the horizon, might it be slightly irrational to conclude that this is the only "universe"
1. We thought the earth was flat because we couldn't see over the horizon.--wrong.
2. We thought the sun was the only sun and that earth was the center of everything.--unimaginably wrong
3. No surprise we thought our galaxy was the only galaxy.--still unimaginably wrong
What have we found in nature that there are only one of?
I mean i get that it's open to speculation and the problem is currently being tackled, but come on.
Increasingly, there is evidence that time did not start with the big bang and may be eternal.