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If you look around space, you'll notice a lot of things — the planets, stars, moons, even the galaxy itself — have one thing in common: they're spinning. So, is the universe spinning, too?
This mystery is one that cosmologists have been acutely studying, because it's one that can tell us about the fundamental nature of the universe.
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Scientists, in thinking about the universe's fundamental nature, started out by assuming that the universe is not rotating and is isotropic, meaning it looks the same in all directions. This assumption is consistent with Einstein's equations, but isn't required by them. From this thinking, scientists built a standard of cosmological model that describes the universe.
"This [assumption] is really encoded in the way we carry out our calculations, the way we analyze our data, in the way we do a lot of things," Daniela Saadeh, a research fellow in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, told Live Science. "But you have to test it. You can't just hope for the best."
Assumptions - Universe - Physics - Scientists - Observations
To see if these assumptions about the universe and its fundamental physics were right, scientists gathered observations to test their models. In particular, they used the light from the cosmic microwave background, or CMB for short. This light is the oldest that we can observe — emitted just 380,000 years after the Big Bang — and is a treasure trove of information for cosmologists studying the universe.
The CMB looks nearly identical in every direction, but there are tiny variations in its temperature, just a thousandth of a degree, that have been affected by the history, content and geometry of the universe. By studying these differences, scientists can see whether the universe has been warped in any way, which would suggest rotation or expansion that is increased...
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