Astronomers observing star clusters in our galaxy have found evidence that controversially challenges Newton’s laws of gravity and could upend our understanding of the universe. The puzzling discovery could support a controversial idea that removes dark matter entirely.
The researchers found this evidence by observing open star clusters or loosely bound groups of a few hundred stars within larger galaxies. Open star clusters have streaks of stars, called “tidal tails,” in front and behind them. The researchers’ observations indicate that these clusters have many more stars sitting in the general direction of their space travel than behind them. This challenges Newton’s law of universal gravitation, which suggests that there should be the same number of stars in both tail tides.
“It’s hugely significant,” says the astrophysicist Pavel Krupa from the University of Bonn told CNET. “There is a huge effect.”
Kroupa is the main author of a study published on October 26 in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society which claim the observations are evidence for Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) – an alternative theory of gravity to Newton’s widely accepted Universal Law of Gravitation.
This uneven distribution of stars is noticeable, but not extreme enough for any type of black matter — an invisible substance believed to exert a powerful gravitational pull on the visible of the universe question — to be involved, Kroupa said.
“It’s basically a game changer,” he said. “It destroys all the work done on galaxies and on cosmology [that] assumes dark matter and Newtonian gravity.”
Issac Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation, published in 1687, states that each particle in the universe attracts others with a force proportional to their mass and inversely proportional to the square of their distance. Albert Einstein later incorporated this law into his theory of relativitypublished in 1915.
But Kroupa said that in the days of Newton and Einstein, astronomers didn’t even know galaxies existed, and so MOND was developed to update it with observations.
MOND, also known as Milgromian dynamics after the astrophysicist Mordecai Milgrom who developed it in the early 1980s, argues that regular Newtonian dynamics does not apply to very large scales of galaxies and galactic clusters – although most astrophysicists believe it does.
The main consequence of MOND is that dark matter doesn’t exist — an idea most astrophysicists reject, Kroupa said. “The majority of scientists completely reject Mond,” he said. “Many serious scientists don’t think Mond is serious, so they wouldn’t consider examining him.”
In their study, the authors report observations of five of the closest open star clusters to Earth, including the Hyades – a roughly spherical cluster of hundreds of stars that lies only about 150 light-years away. of our sun.
The researchers observed that the stars had accumulated in the main tidal tail of the five clusters, while the greatest deviation from regular Newtonian dynamics was observed in the Hyades cluster, where there are better measurements, Krupa said.
The observed discrepancies strengthen the case for MOND, but they cannot be the result of the invisible action of dark matter.
In the case of the Hyades, “there would have to be a clump of dark matter like 10 million solar masses” to explain the results, he said. “But it’s just not in the data.”
Future studies will use more precise data on star positions from new space telescopes, such as the European Space Agency’s Gaia, he said.
However, because MOND is not widely accepted by many scientists, the results of the new study are controversial.
Sabine Hossenfelderan astrophysicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Frankfurt, told CNET in an email that she was excited to see researchers working on gravitational simulations of MOND.
But “as they admit the paper themselves, they use an approximate calculation which requires confirmation… [and] they did not quantify the magnitude of the disagreement with the data,” she said. “So I think it remains to be seen how good that argument actually is.
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Unbalanced star cluster could refute Newton and Einstein, controversial new study suggests – CNET – ApparelGeek
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