The entire universe may once have been spinning all over the place

The early universe may have been spinning, leaving a trace that is still visible in the skies today. Lior Shamir at Kansas State University and his colleagues used three of the world’s most powerful observatories – the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System and the Hubble Space Telescope – to find the spin direction of more than 200,000 spiral galaxies across the sky.

Leah Crane | News Scientist

Based on most modern models of cosmology, we would expect there to be an equal number of galaxies spinning clockwise and counterclockwise. But when they looked at the data from each of the three observatories, the researchers found an unexpected imbalance in this figure.

“The difference is not huge, just about over two per cent, but with that high a number of galaxies the probability to have such a division by chance is less than one in a million,” Shamir said at a press conference during a virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society on 1 June. The further away the galaxies, the greater the imbalance.

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