Einstein’s theory on the expansion of the universe might be wrong. At least, that’s the running idea behind a new study published in Classical and Quantum Gravity earlier this month. The study was led by Lucas Lombriser, a theoretical physicist working at the University of Geneva. Lombriser told Live Science that they looked at the cosmos through a new lens and discovered that maybe the universe isn’t expanding after all.
Longstanding theories suggest that redshift, which is the stretching of light towards the redder end of the spectrum, is a sign of the universe constantly expanding, moving objects further away from us. Additionally, recent research has suggested that the rate of the universe’s expansion is getting faster. This process is often denoted as a cosmological constant. It’s also known as the lambda.
However, this concept has been problematic since Einstein first described it because observations just don’t match up with the predictions that astronomers and astrophysicists have made about how fast the universe should be expanding. As such, some have proposed that there could be other particles or forces that can explain the discrepancy.
Instead of relying on that cosmological constant, Lombriser says that Einstein’s original theory that the universe is flat and static may have actually been correct and that it could be particles changing in mass, not the galaxies moving further away from us as the universe expands. The new theory relies heavily on dark matter, which is believed to make up 80 percent of the universe’s mass, acting like an axion field.
An axion field is a hypothetical particle that many consider a top choice for dark matter’s identity, something astronomers have been searching for but have yet to discover. While this new theory might seem a bit out-of-this-world, especially considering how established the theory of the expanding universe has become, it’s possible it could provide an answer that astronomers have been looking for.
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