Alternate or parallel universes may actually exist, according to the findings of one astrophysicist, but many in the scientific community aren't convinced.
Ranga-Ram Chary, U.S. Planck Data Center's project manager in California, recently discovered a "mysterious glow" by mapping the Cosmic Microwave Background, otherwise known as the light that was left over from a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang.
Ordinarily, Chary would have found nothing "except noise." But the spots of light were 4,500 times brighter than they should have been.
Chary concluded that the glow could represent matter from another universe "leaking" or colliding into ours. This would validate the hypothesis that our universe is merely "a region within an eternally inflating super-region," said Chary in an Astrophysical Journal study published in September.
Cosmologists have speculated about multiple universes for years, but have thus far been unable to prove their existence. Chary's research is therefore significant because it could lend credence to the theory that cosmic inflation -- which is the notion that the universe began inflating right after the Big Bang -- led to multiple universes.
However, this type of claim would "require a very high burden of proof," Chary wrote. There's a 30 percent chance that the glow is nothing out of the ordinary.
Other scientists share this skepticism. Alexander Vilenkin, director of Tufts University's Institute of Cosmology, doesn't see how "this signal can be explained by a collision with another bubble universe." Any collisions must have been "more like little nudges," Vilenkin added. "But a collision that would greatly enhance the density of protons seems to require a much more violent encounter."
"The supposed observations of a giant void and an apparently cold spot in the cosmic background radiation have so many types of potential explanations," said Jay Pasachoff, chair of the astronomy department at Williams College. He maintains that it's too premature to cite an alternate universe as the explanation.
"But it could also be something new and unexpected," Vilenkin added.
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