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"Unknown Force May Alter Gravity at Cosmologically Large Scales" (Today's Most Popular)




A fifth force may exist that disrupts the predictions general relativity makes outside our own galaxy, on cosmic-length scales. University of Pennsylvania astrophysicist, Bhuvnesh Jain, says the nature of gravity is the question of a lifetime. As scientists have been able to see farther and deeper into the universe, the laws of gravity have been revealed to be under the influence of an unexplained force.

Two branches of theories have sprung up, each trying to fill its gaps in a different way. One branch — dark energy — suggests that the vacuum of space has an energy associated with it and that energy causes the observed acceleration. The other falls under the umbrella of “scalar-tensor” gravity theories, which effectively posits a fifth force (beyond gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces) that alters gravity on cosmologically large scales.

“These two possibilities are both radical in their own way,” Jain said. “One is saying that general relativity is correct, but we have this strange new form of energy. The other is saying we don't have a new form of energy, but gravity is not described by general relativity everywhere.”

Jain’s research is focused on the latter possibility; he is attempting to characterize the properties of this fifth force that disrupts the predictions general relativity makes outside our own galaxy, on cosmic length scales.

By innovatively analyzing a well-studied class of stars in nearby galaxies, Jain and his colleagues — Vinu Vikram, Anna Cabre and Joseph Clampitt at Penn and Jeremy Sakstein at the University of Cambridge — have produced new findings that narrow down the possibilities of what this force could be. Their findings, published on the Arxiv (see below), are a vindication of Einstein’s theory of gravity.

Having survived a century of tests in the solar system, it has passed this new test in galaxies beyond our own as well.In 1998, astrophysicists made an observation that turned gravity on its ear: the universe’s rate of expansion is speeding up. If gravity acts the same everywhere, stars and galaxies propelled outward by the Big Bang should continuously slow down, like objects thrown from an explosion do here on Earth.

This observation used distant supernovae to show that the expansion of the universe was speeding up rather than slowing down. This indicated that something was missing from physicists’ understanding of how the universe responds to gravity, which is described by Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Jain’s recent breakthrough came about when he and his colleagues realized they could use the troves of data on a special property of a common type of star as an exquisite test of gravity.

Astrophysicists have been pursuing tests of gravity in the cosmos for many years, but conventional tests require data on millions of galaxies. Future observations are expected to provide such enormous datasets in the coming data. But Jain and his colleagues were able to bypass the conventional approach.

“We’ve been able to perform a powerful test using just 25 nearby galaxies that is more than a hundred times more stringent than standard cosmological tests,” Jain said.The nearby galaxies are important because they contain stars called cepheids that are bright enough to be seen individually. Moreover, cepheids have been used for decades as a kind of interstellar yardstick because their brightness oscillates in a precise and predictable way.

“You can measure the brightness of a light bulb at some distance and know that, if you move it twice as far, it will be four times as faint. So you can tell just by the difference in its observed brightness how much further you moved it,” Jain said. “But you need to know how intrinsically bright the bulb is first to determine its actual distance from us.”

Cepheids have a unique trait that allows astrophysicists to get this critical information: their luminosity oscillates over the course of days and weeks. The known relationship between a cepheid’s rate of oscillation and intrinsic brightness serves as that baseline for calculating its distance from Earth, which in turn serves as a baseline for calculating the distance of other celestial objects.

The accelerating universe observation, for example, relied upon cepheid data for scale.“Now that we understand a little bit more about what makes the cepheids pulsate — a balance of gravity and pressure — we can use them to learn about gravity, not just distance,” Jain said. “If the fifth force enhances gravity even a little bit, it will make them pulsate faster.”

Because of their usefulness, there was already more than a decade of data on cepheids based on the Hubble Space Telescope and other large telescopes in Chile and Hawaii. Using that data, Jain and his colleagues compared nearly a thousand stars in 25 galaxies. This allowed them to make comparisons between galaxies that are theoretically “screened” or protected from the effects of the hypothetical fifth force and those that are not. Larger galaxies and ones that belong to galaxy clusters are screened, while smaller, isolated galaxies are not.

“If we compare galaxies that don't permit this extra force, like our own galaxy, with others that do, then we should see a difference in the way those galaxies’ cepheids behave,” Jain said. “Because this new force would increase the speed of their oscillations and because we can use the rate of their oscillations to their measure distance from us, the measurement we get from cepheids in unscreened galaxies should be smaller than distance measurements made with different techniques.”

Jain and his colleagues ultimately did not see variation between their control sample of screened galaxies and their test sample of unscreened ones. Their results line up exactly with the prediction of Einstein’s general relativity. This means that the potential range and strength of the fifth force is severely constrained.

“We find consistency with Einstein’s theory of gravity and we sharply narrow the space available to these other theories. Many of these theories are now ruled out by the data,” Jain said.With better data on nearby galaxies in the coming years, Jain expects that an entire class of gravity theories could essentially be eliminated. But there remains the exciting possibility that better data may reveal small deviations from Einstein’s gravity, one of the most famous scientific theories of all time.

The image at the top of the page shows the most distant X-ray cluster of galaxies yet found by astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. Approximately 10 billion light years from Earth, the cluster 3C294 is 40 percent farther than the next most distant X-ray galaxy cluster previously known. The existence of such a distant galaxy cluster is important for understanding how the Universe evolved.

For more information: http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.6044

The Daily Galaxy via Pennsylvania State University


I think that, as the situation evolves, things been so confused that at some time, everyone will have his own "force" and his "cosmological theory" that creates the Universe. And that's, because none of the existing theories can convince scientists for its correctness.
Wishing therefore to contribute to this whole confuse, I propose a new cosmological theory, contrary to the theory of «big bang», based on a single interaction, the "electromagnetic interaction."
I do this because fundamentally I believe that my theory will clear up the whole situation. If someone wants to publish my theory, I have it at his disposal.

I think the universe is but a bubble in the inflationary stage amongst the foam on the water in a cosmic-sized bathtub. That's pretty much why the "universe" is assymetrical and theory resistent while the surrounding foam and bubbles tug about it from all directions.

What if the little kid was right when asking: "When space ends, what comes after that?"

This dark matter/energy seems to point to something really weird beyond our universe. What if space really ends and beyond space there is some strange kind of energy which we see as anomalities in gravity? It would actually very conveniently explain why the universe is expanding: because this matter has gravity!

I think it would be very interesting and even useful for a while to just speculate about the structure of our universe and what lies beyond. It could provide us with some new ideas that could be useful for science. And besides, science fiction has a bad habit of turning into science fact as time passes...

I have been a dark matter skeptic since it was introduced and for good reason. Mathematics is not infallible. It's a very useful tool, but if not used 100% correctly, it can guide us to incorrect assumptions. If gravity does not work at the quantum level the way it works at the local level, then that tells me gravity affects matter differently at different size-scales. It stands to reason that gravity may not affect larger parts of the universe as it affects us locally.

Dark matter makes mathematical sense, it makes no logical sense. If dark matter does exist, it is likely made up of extremely small particles and it is almost impossible to measure their mass at our current rate of development. And if it does exist, I believe it is all around us, just waiting to be found.

I think it's more likely that we simply do not understand gravity nearly as well as we think we do. Gravitational formulas based on mathematics only work if gravity affects the entire universe evenly. It clearly does not. We've got a long way to go.

The headline:

"Unknown Force May Alter Gravity at Cosmologically Large Scales" really says it all:

When modern scientists excludingly works with gravity in a conventional way, the other 3 fundamental forces is kind of unknown to them.

We don´t need "a new force". What cosmological science need, it to change to an already known force which past scientists couldn´t include since they didn´t have the knowledge and observations we have today.

I certainly and withput any doubts go with Vaggelis Talios and the "electromagnetic interaction" which has the same fundamental properties as gravity and in my opinion is the main cause for "gravity".

Ivar Nielsen

@Lone Star,

I agree.

"Dark matter" was invented because the objects in galaxies didn´t orbit "a central point of gravity" as in the Solar System on which the "law of celestial motions", was made by Newton.

By inserting this illusive dark matter, the scientists believed everything OK and "we just have to find the dark matter".

But even with any doubts finding "dark matter", this will never solve the basical problems. The different orbital motions in our galaxy and in the Solar System STILL will cause huge logical problems.

This "unversal law of celestial motion" cannot confirm 2 different kinds of orbital motions in a galaxy where the Solar System EVEN is an integrated part of the galactic rotation which by scientists themselves has been stated as an anomaly, (Galactic rotation anomaly)

We have 2 kinds of orbital motions in the same galactic conditions and overall motion! Blurring this fact with all kinds of hypothetical dark this and that doesn´t remove these facts.

This cannot and will not be solved by any other methods than including the electromagnetic fundamental force, which has the very same fundamental proporties as the illusive gravity.

Of course other natural dynamics also have to be included, of which the thermodynamics is the second most important to electromagnetism.

Natural Philosopher
Ivar Nielsen

I'll much be obliged if you would comment on, the following case. If we were asking a little kid, what exists beyond the limits of the Universe and give us the naïve, but very clear and logical answer. Of course, after the limits of the Universe there is nothing that means there is the absolutely empty space, which extends to infinity.

I know this is probably over simplistic.
I have done a little reading on cosmology and energy. I have a basic understanding of maths.

Every "thing" at the small scale has some sort of spin. from atoms to planets to solar systems to galaxies.
Why would this spin not extend to the cosmos. IF as TBBT suggest is all started from a central point. To me in stands to reason this point had a spin as well. Using centrifugal force things at the extremities of this force have more outward energy than those at the central. as things move further from the central point would they not accelerate? (assuming that the spin is constant of course).
Just my simple mind contemplating peripheral questions.

@Vaggelis, you wrote;

"Of course, after the limits of the Universe there is nothing that means there is the absolutely empty space, which extends to infinity".

Excuse me, but: How can "an absolutely empty space which extends to infinity" have any limits at all in the first place?

according to johns theory of the universe... of coarse dark mater exists and the only thing keeping present day scientists from finding it is their lack of imagination and some acceptance of theory as fact. just from basic observation of the world around us and from some basic understanding of science as we know it, shows us that most things are made of smaller particles. consider the solar system as a much smaller part of our own galaxy. most of these smaller particles maybe all of them on some level are spinning on an axis. balls of stuff. from atoms to planets to galaxies and beyond to find dark matter you have to look at the atom and consider many smaller parts not just a few. like turning an atom into a gas from its parts releasing enormous energy and increasing pressure on cosmic length scales. a million billion suns and galaxies converting their mater into energy for billions of years and we wonder what dark mater and dark energy are. all of that mater / energy is still there even if we cant see it. condensing in to new atoms, then gas and stars and everything in a never ending cycle

The Electric Universe

@Vaggelis Talios

Just curious, is your theory different from "Electric Universe" Theory?

Thanks :)


Hindus believes that God is beyond Space and Time.

Yep, the electric universe model has much to offer clarifying these apparent contradictions in standard modeling.

It's a bit comical, really, watching this constant parade of evermore absurd compensatory ideas floated as bandaids to a fundamentally flawed model when there exists quite observable and reproducible electrical phenomena which account for cosmological behaviors.

What's not so comical is the means whereby scientists outside the accepted paradigm are routinely abused and marginalized by political corruption of scientific institutions.

There may well be some very dark political and economic reasons for proactive efforts to suppress and discredit. Conversely, there's some urgency for us all in coming to terms with ideas and interpretations of phenomena being obscured by institutions vested in maintaing this fantastically errant status quo.

If programmed bias hasn't consumed your personal objectivity or intellectual integrity, please visit:


@Vaggelis Talios
I agree that beyond our Universe there could just be empty space, but I don't think it could be infinite. Even space has some properties (it isn't really empty) and hence, it would have to have been created by something also.

Of course, someone could argue that the space around our Universe is 'emptier' than our own space, which was 'contaminated' by the Big Bang. But still it seems counter intuitive (a thing that the little kid would not buy) and that's the real test of a theory. I think the universe is a pretty logical place at the end. Everything makes sense in a weird way. But there are some things (like infinity) that don't.


The E=mc2 includes both mass and electromagnetic energy.

In the conventional perception of "gravity = masses only rules everything in the Universe", scientists and astrophysicists completely ignores the energy = light = the electromagnetical part of the cosmological explanation.

By ignoring the energy part of cosmos and in the mathematical equations and calculations, the conventional scientists cannot describe and explain the motions of the observed masses.

Gravity is the weakest link of all fundamental forces. Totally ignoring the (real) other and much stronger 3 forces gives an astromonically huge deficit on the energy bottom line.

Thus: Lacking and ignoring energy in the perceptions and equations = lacking mass = hence the conclusion of “more mass has to be found”.

This is the very self-restricted and illogical basics on which modern cosmological science is founded. Even the used mathemathics are involved in this wobbling and one-eyed foundation which completely ignores the real reality.


Including the (real) electromagnetic forces should relieve all kinds of “dark this and that” with light = electromagnetic energies.

Then no masses is missing at all - and all cosmic motions can be naturally explained.

@ Ivar Nielsen. You wrote:
I certainly and with put any doubts go with Vaggelis Talios and the "electromagnetic interaction, which has the same fundamental properties as gravity and in my opinion is the main cause for "gravity".
Please let me to add the following:
The gravity and the electromagnetic forces are forces that have the same origin. For this you be very sure. Soon, you will not talk, separately about gravity and about electromagnetic forces, but will talk, about the electrogravitomagnetic force.
Between gravity and the electromagnetic forces, there are three differences.
-The size: The electromagnetic forces are much stronger than gravity.
-The polarity: The electromagnetic forces are attractive and repulsive forces, while gravity are only attractive forces and
-The Global-Constants, K and G: The constant K is perfectly stable, whilst G is variable. Although science is still considered the K and G absolutely stable.
For all above I have written the corresponding theory, it I hope will soon be released. But, today who hears such a very small researcher?

@ Spirit Molecule
My theory is the theory of "Pointal Charges", it I describe in the book "From the inside of quarks and up to beyond the Universe". It is a theory similar, but exactly opposite of the theory of «big bang»

I concur that past our Universe there could simply be void space, yet I don't figure it could be vast. Indeed, even space has a few properties (it isn't generally void) and subsequently, it would need to have been made by something too.

Obviously, somebody could contend that the space around our Universe is "emptier" than our own particular space, which was "tainted" by the Big Bang. Yet at the same time it appears to be strange (a thing that the little child would not purchase) and that is the genuine trial of a hypothesis. I think the universe is a truly coherent place toward the end. Everything bodes well unusually. In any case, there are a few things (like interminability) that don't.

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