Einstein’s theory of relativity was tested on a cosmic scale: inconsistencies appeared

Everything in the universe has and feels gravity, but this most common of all fundamental forces is also the biggest problem for physicists.

Researchers Kazuya Koyama from the University of Portsmouth, UK, and Levon Poghosyan from Simon Fraser University, Canada, presented their new study in which they set out to test Einstein’s theory of relativity on a cosmic scale. Their results suggest that this theory may need to be changed, writes ScienceAlert.

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Broken theory

Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity works well in describing the gravity of stars and planets, but scientists believe it does not ideally apply to the scale of the entire universe.

“Inconsistencies in this theory begin to appear when we try to apply it to very small distances where the laws of quantum mechanics apply, or when we try to describe the entire universe. Therefore, we created a model to test the feasibility of Einstein’s theory on a cosmic scale. , what we got shows that the general theory of relativity may need to be corrected, says Koyama.

Quantum theory predicts that the entire vacuum of space is filled with invisible energy, and you can only notice its changes, but not learn about its total amount. But according to Einstein, this energy has repulsive gravity and can expand all empty space. By the way, in the late 90s of the last century, scientists discovered that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating. But the amount of this dark energy, as it has come to be known, is much smaller than what quantum theory predicts.

“Therefore, an important question arose: does dark energy have gravity and could it have a gravitational effect on the expansion of the universe? If so, why is its gravity much weaker than expected? If this energy has no gravity at all, then what causes cosmic acceleration?” says Poghosyan.


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Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity works well in describing the gravity of stars and planets, but scientists believe it does not ideally apply to the scale of the entire universe.

Photo: Antifal Real

Dark energy and dark matter

According to scientists, it is still unknown what dark energy is, but one must consider its existence to explain the expansion of the universe. Similarly, it is not entirely clear what dark energy is, but it must exist to explain how galaxies and galaxy clusters have evolved over time just as we know them today.

“These assumptions are part of a standard cosmological model called the Lambda-CDM model. This model assumes that the universe consists of 70% dark energy, 25% dark matter, and 5% ordinary matter. This model has been successfully consistent with all data that scientists have collected over the past few decades, but the fact that our universe consists of 95% unusual dark energy and dark matter has led many scientists to believe that Einstein’s theory of gravity must be modified to describe the entire cosmos, says Koyama. .

The expansion of the universe and the problem of estimating its speed

But recently, scientists have found that different ways of measuring the expansion rate of the universe, called the Hubble constant, give different results. This became known as the Hubble problem. Disagreement arises between two values ​​of the Hubble constant:

  • The value predicted by the Lambda-CDM model, which reflected the rate of expansion according to the CMB left over from the Big Bang.
  • A value indicating the expansion rate of the universe when observing supernova explosions in distant galaxies.

Focus already wrote that scientists have confirmed the existing differences between two different ways of estimating the expansion rate of our universe.

Scientists have proposed many ways to explain these disagreements, including an alternative theory of gravity. Focus already wrote that a recent study showed that scientists may have found confirmation of this alternative theory of gravity.

dark matter

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According to scientists, it is still unknown what dark energy is, but one must consider its existence to explain the expansion of the universe. Similarly, it is not entirely clear what dark energy is, but it must exist to explain how galaxies and galaxy clusters have evolved over time just as we know them today.

Photo: ER Fuller/National Science Foundation

Testing Einstein’s theory for strength

“As part of a new study, we decided to check whether the entire universe follows the rules that Albert Einstein substantiated in his theory. General relativity describes gravity as a curvature of space and time, that is, a curvature of the paths along which light and matter moves, that is, radiation and matter should be bent under the influence of gravity, says Poghosyan.

To find out if general relativity is true on a cosmic scale, scientists decided for the first time to simultaneously study three of its important components:

  • the expansion of the universe;
  • the effect of gravity on light;
  • the effect of gravity on matter.

“We reconstructed the gravity of the universe in a computer model based on these three parameters. We used data from measurements of the CMB, as well as data from supernovae and the distribution of distant galaxies. Then we compared our reconstruction with the prediction of the Lambda-CDM model, and indeed ” This is Einstein’s model. As a result, we found a hint that there are inconsistencies in Einstein’s predictions. Although this inconsistency has a very small statistical error, it exists,” says Koyama.

The theory of relativity must be corrected

Scientists believe that there is still a strong possibility that gravity does not work as Einstein’s theory predicts on large cosmic scales. And probably general relativity needs to be corrected.

“Our study also showed that it is very difficult to solve the Hubble problem just by changing the theory of gravity. A complete solution to this problem requires a new component of the cosmological model that existed before protons and electrons first combined into hydrogen immediately after the Big Bang. This could be a special form of dark matter or an early form of dark energy, or there is some unknown error in the information obtained about the cosmos, says Koyama.

Focus also wrote about another theory proposed by American scientists in a recent study, which says that our universe did not begin with a Big Bang. It was just the next phase of her development.

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