Mysterious invisible walls may have been discovered in space

Scientists suspect that a “fifth force” may be at work in space. This force, which they believe is mediated by a hypothetical particle called a symmetron, is responsible for creating invisible walls in space.

The walls are not necessarily like the walls of a room. Instead, they look more like barriers. And, they could help explain an intriguing part of space that has left astronomers scratching their heads for quite a while.

New study could explain ‘invisible walls in space’ that have puzzled astronomers for years

An image of the Southern Pinwheel galaxy captured by the DECam. Image source: NOIRLab

The Cold Dark Matter Lambda Model (ΛCDM) is the current standard model we use to explain cosmology. However, there has been a confusing challenge for this model, and sometimes it just doesn’t fit.

According to this model, small galaxies should be distributed in disordered orbits around larger galaxies. However, most small galaxies orbiting larger galaxies are arranged in thin, flat planes. These planes, or discs, resemble the rings of Saturn. Almost as if there were an invisible wall in space along which the galaxies arrange themselves.

These “satellites,” as astronomers often call them, can be found in synchronized orbits throughout our own galaxy. Astronomers have also observed them in nearby galaxies. Over the years, scientists have come up with many possible explanations for the “satellite disk problem.”

However, this new study from researchers at the University of Nottingham presents a different type of explanation for these invisible walls in space. The study is currently available through the arXiv preprint server.

A new physical explanation

hubble picture
The star cluster NGC 1805 photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope. Image source: ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Kalirai

The researchers posit that their research points to an early potential “new physics” explanation that does not completely remove dark matter. Dark matter makes up most of the mass of the universe and has proven to be one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. As such, it has been an important part of this kind of studies.

Unlike previous studies on the matter, this new research suggests that hypothetical particles called symmetrons could generate invisible walls in space. Astronomers call these walls “domain walls” and they are what keep galaxies in their refined orbits. Instead, galaxies orbit in a disordered pattern, as the ΛCDM model suggests.

The researchers also say that there is a 50/50 chance that different regions will adopt different values ​​for its symmetrons. This could explain the differences that some larger galaxies have in the smaller galaxies orbiting them.

Of course, this is just a proof of concept. If we want to prove that there are invisible walls in space, we will have to prove the existence of symmetrons. This is where space instruments like the James Webb Telescope come in. By observing parts of the early universe, they could tell us more about these new particles and the organization they bring to the universe.

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