Scientists suspect that a “fifth force” may be at work in space. They believe this force is controlled by a hypothetical particle known as a “symmetron” and creates invisible walls in space.
The walls aren’t necessarily like the walls of a room. They are actually more like barriers. They could also help to explain an interesting part of space, which has puzzled astronomers for years.
New study could explain “invisible walls in space” that have perplexed astronomers for years
The Lambda cold dark matter (LCDM) model is the current standard model we use to explain cosmology. This model has one problem. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense.
According to that model, small galaxies should be distributed in messy orbits around larger galaxies. However, small galaxies that orbit larger galaxies tend to be arranged in flat planes. These planes, or disks, look similar to the rings of Saturn. It’s almost as though there is an invisible wall that separates space from the galaxies. These “satellites”, as astronomers refer to them, are found in closely-related orbits within our galaxy. Astronomers have also observed them in neighboring galaxies, too. Over the years, scientists have proposed many possible explanations to solve 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 via the preprint server arXiv.
A new physics explanation
The researchers posit that their research points towards a first potential “new physics” explanation that doesn’t do away with dark matter completely. Dark matter makes up most of the mass in the universe and has proven to be one of the universe’s biggest mysteries. As such, it’s been an important part of these kinds of studies.
Unlike past studies into the issue, this new research suggests that hypothetical particles called symmetrons could generate invisible walls in space. These walls are called “domain walls” by astronomers and hold the galaxies within their precise orbits. Instead of the galaxies orbiting in a messy pattern, as the LCDM model suggests it should.
The researchers also say there is a 50/50 chance that different regions will adopt different values for its symmetrons. These differences could be explained by the larger galaxies orbiting them that have smaller galaxies.
Of course, this is just a proof of concept. We must prove the existence of symmetrons if we are to show that space has invisible walls. That’s where space instruments like the James Webb telescope come into play. They could help us learn more about the new particles they create and how they organize the universe as they are observed in the early universe.
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