Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Galactic 'axis of asymmetry' threatens cosmic order - New Scientist - New Scientist

Galactic 'axis of asymmetry' threatens cosmic order: In most directions, Longo found an even spread of right and left-handed galaxies. But when he looked along a line about 25 degrees off from the direction of the Milky Way's north pole - a cosmic reference point that sits directly above the centre of our galaxy - he found more left-handed spirals than right-handed ones...
Now, Lior Shamir of the Lawrence Technological University at Southfield, Michigan, has automated the process and looked deeper into space. His software classified the handedness of almost 250,000 spiral galaxies up to 3.4 billion light years away, which were surveyed by SDSS and another project called the Galaxy Zoo...

This time, though, the axis of asymmetry pointed about 60 degrees to the other side of the Milky Way's north pole (see diagram). Despite being separated by 85 degrees, both axes have such large uncertainties that they could be aspects of the same axis.
"The observation is so strange that it's difficult to interpret its meaning," says Shamir. "A pattern in the structure of the universe at such a large scale is not something that we expect to see."

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