With every day that passes, scientists wrap up one mystery of our universe only for another to begin unfolding. According to a new study published in Physical Review Letters (per Vice), such is the case in a baffling finding from researchers that suggests something is hampering our universe’s growth. How the threads are pulled apart from here could undermine and unravel how we as humans understand the laws of physics.
Scientists have found that expanding gas and dark matter structures are being slowed, hampering universe growth.
Known as the cosmic web, the area that the scientists are studying is a massive piece of ever-sprawling structures formed by gas and dark matter that are connected to one another at intersectional points dubbed nodes. The new study suggests that this web is advancing at a much slower pace than originally suggested, meaning that, in turn, the universe’s growth is also affected. This knowledge will better help those researching the sigma-8 tension phenomenon, which is a term scientists use to explain how matter is distributed throughout the universe.
Studying universe growth through sigma-8 tension seems to reveal that dark matter is the reason for the slow down.
At the head of the latest hypothesis is Minh Nguyen, an astrophysicist and cosmologist at the University of Michigan and the head of the study that was published in Physical Review Letters. From what Nguyen and his team have learned, they believe that the universe’s growth has been stifled during the most recent era, with dark energy appearing to be the culprit. Upon further breaking down how they arrived at their findings, the report says that “cosmological tensions can be interpreted as evidence of growth suppression.”
Just as it often happens, Nguyen and his team never set out to learn more about the mystery of sigma-8 tension or what was affecting the universe’s growth. In fact, their goal was to learn more about the “history of the cosmic background expansion” rather than what has been happening for it in recent years. But, the universe had other plans, with the research team soon stumbling upon a fantastic finding that others looking into similar mysteries had previously missed.
The theory of universe growth may not be accurate given the latest sigma-8 tension findings.
Using techniques that are used by the scientific community to study things like the universe’s growth, the research team brought a handful of tools to the table, including gravitational lensing, which uses light to help fill in the dark spots when it comes to the universe’s past. After digging into how our universe has grown and changed during its billions of years of existence, they were able to dial in on the growth that has taken place closer to this lifetime. Each of those discoveries pointed to the same thing – that the timeframe of growth has monumentally slowed down over time.
Even if it wasn’t an aimed discovery, the latest finding surrounding the universe’s growth is a big one that will need much more data poured into it should it help solve questions including the sigma-8 tension phenomenon. Meanwhile, other studies of the cosmos and the world beyond our sky are dripping with interesting information, including more knowledge about black holes, stars, and even the moon itself. As we bid adieu to 2023 and move into a new year, we can only expect more mind-boggling discoveries to be made over the course of the next 12 months.