Results of this research by Dr. Richard Lieu, a UAH physics professor, andDr.
Proving Einstein right might become a problem for the standard cosmologicalmodel of how the universe was formed because Einstein's theory alsopredicts that the cosmic microwave background shouldn't look the way itdoes, according to Lieu
The problem, he
says, is that cool spots in the microwave background aretoo uniform in size to have traveled across almost 14 billion light yearsfrom the edges of the universe to Earth.
"Einstein's theory of how gravity attracts light, coupled with the unevendistribution of matter in the near universe, says you should have a spreadof sizes around the average, with some of these cool spots noticeablylarger and others noticeably smaller," he
The problem, says Lieu
, is that not only is the average about right, butfar too many of the spots themselves are "just right" with too littlevariation in sizes.Given the uneven distribution of matter in anexpanding universe, he
says, we should see a broader size distributionamong the cool spots by the time that radiation reaches Earth.
The distribution of matter and the expanding universe are important becausethey have opposite effects on the "shape" of space and the paths taken bylight, microwaves and other radiation as they zip through the cosmos.
An expanding universe would tend to "stretch" space, causing radiation todisperse as it flies through.That dispersion would make objects appear toan observer to be smaller than they really are, as if the light wentthrough a concave lens.
"As far as we know," said Lieu
, "the expansion takes place smoothlyeverywhere.
"But you don't see this fluctuation," said Lieu
If the cool spots are too uniform to have traveled to Earth from near thebeginning of time, Lieu
says cosmologists are left with several alternativeexplanations.
The first is that the cosmological parameters (including the Hubbleconstant, the amount of dark matter, etc.) used to predict the original,pre-lensed sizes of the cool and hot spots in the microwave backgroundmight be wrong.These parameters could be adjusted to predict a narrowerrange of sizes on either side of the "pre-lensed" average.
Then, after the effect of gravitational lensing is folded in, the resultingaverage size and size dispersion would agree with what WMAP actually saw,said Lieu
."This approach is the most conservative, but would still resultin an overhaul of the standard model."
"Or, could it be that although the radiation itself is from far away, someof these cool spot structures are caused by nearby physical processes andaren't really remnants of the universe's creation?"Lieu
In research published April 10 in the "Astrophysical Journal, Letters,"Lieu
and Mittaz found that evidence provided by WMAP point to a slightly"super critical" universe, where there is more matter (and gravity) thanwhat the standard interpretation of the WMAP data says.