Strange behaviour on a cosmic scale could be explained by a ‘cosmic glitch’ in gravity

A team of scientists from the Universities of British Columbia and Waterloo has found what may be a “cosmic glitch” in the gravity of the cosmos, which would explain the unusual behavior of the universe on a cosmic scale.

Scientists have been using Albert Einstein’s “general relativity” theory to describe how gravity operates across the cosmos for the past 100 years. Many experiments and observations have demonstrated the accuracy of general relativity, which suggests that time is a fourth dimension in addition to the three physical dimensions that are impacted by gravity.

“This gravity model has been important in everything from black hole photography to theorizing the Big Bang,” stated Robin Wen, the project’s lead author and a recent graduate of Waterloo Mathematical Physics.

However, there seem to be inconsistencies between the predictions of general relativity and gravity when we attempt to comprehend it at the cosmic scale, which is at the scale of galaxy clusters and beyond. It appears as though gravity itself stops to precisely conform to Einstein’s theory. The reason for this discrepancy, which we are referring to as a “cosmic glitch,” is that gravity weakens by about 1% at distances measured in billions of light years.

Scientists studying physics and astronomy have been attempting to develop a mathematical model to account for the seeming inconsistencies in general relativity theory for over 20 years. A significant portion of those efforts have been conducted in Waterloo, which has an extensive record of cutting-edge gravitational research due to continuous interdisciplinary cooperation between astrophysicists and applied mathematicians.

“Our universe is expanding, as astronomers discovered almost a century ago,” stated Niayesh Afshordi, an astrophysics professor at the University of Waterloo and researcher at the Perimeter Institute.

“Galaxies appear to be traveling at almost the speed of light, which is the maximum permitted by Einstein’s theory, the farther away they are from one another. Our result suggests that Einstein’s theory could not be sufficient on those exact scales as well.”

Without affecting the practical applications of general relativity that are now in place, the study team’s new idea of a “cosmic glitch” extends and changes Einstein’s mathematical formulas to resolve the inconsistency of some cosmological findings.

“Think of it as being like a footnote to Einstein’s theory,” Wen stated. “Once you reach a cosmic scale, terms and conditions apply.”

“This new model might just be the first clue in a cosmic puzzle we are starting to solve across space and time,” Afshordi stated.