There's something very odd going on in space - something that shouldn't be possible. It is as though vast swathes of the universe are being hoovered up by a vast and unseen celestial vacuum cleaner. Sasha Kaslinsky, the scientist who discovered the phenomenon, is understandably nervous: 'It left us quite unsettled and jittery' he says, 'because this is not something we planned to find'.
The accidental discovery of what is ominously being called 'dark flow' not only has implications for the destinies of large numbers of galaxies - it also means that large numbers of scientists might have to find a new way of understanding the universe. Dark flow is the latest in a long line of phenomena that have threatened to re-write the textbooks. Does it herald a new era of understanding, or does it simply mean that everything we know about the universe is wrong?
14 billion years ago there was nothing; then everything exploded into existence and the universe was born, but a new generation of cosmologists are questioning this theory. Cosmologists have created a replica of the universe by using equations; it’s called the standard model of cosmology and it’s the reason behind the Big Bang theory; however, this model is now doubted. Professor Alan Guth’s theory challenges the Big Bang by stating that the universe started out small, allowing the temperature to even out everywhere, before expanding on a massive scale.
Stars nearer the edge of a galaxy move just as fast as those in the centre. This made cosmologists think that galaxies needed more gravity, but the only way to get more gravity was to create it. Astrophysicist Dan Bauer is hunting for dark matter half a mile under the dark plains of Minnesota in order to trace and record it more effectively. The discovery that the universe is speeding up suggests that a new force is powering the universe. This force is known as dark energy, and cosmologists have no idea what it is.
The combination of the standard model, inflation and dark matter has given way to a new theory called dark flow. The nature of this theory could show that our universe isn't the only one. The standard model of cosmology has withstood much criticism, therefore making the theory stronger; however it could still be totally wrong.