A while back, I reported on a discovery indicating that the universe extends far beyond the portion we can see (known as the observable universe). Now the evidence for this yet-to-be-observed region, the multiverse, grows even stronger.
The team of astronomers responsible for the initial findings undertook a more ambitious observing program to verify the claim that the observable universe moves at one million miles per hour along a path directed toward the constellations Centaurus and Hydra. The scientists involved dubbed this motion the “dark flow.” By analyzing the latest cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation measurements (from WMAP) and a large sample of galaxy clusters (observed in X-rays), the team indeed confirmed their earlier results.
Specifically, the expanded observations allowed the team to account for possible systematic errors and increase the distances over which the motion was measured by a factor of two.1 The addition of a number of extremely bright X-ray galaxy clusters provided further confirmation that the dark flow is real. Because large galaxy clusters contain lots of hot gas (which makes them bright in X-rays), they cause greater distortions in the CMB radiation. Consequently, these clusters should exhibit the largest signature of the bulk flow—and they do. It would require an unlikely fluke to produce these results if the dark flow did not exist.
The most straightforward interpretation of this result is that gravitational effects occurring before inflation pulled the observable universe in one direction. Although inflation moved the mass/energy responsible for this “tug” far beyond our ability to detect it directly, the observable universe continues to move in the direction in which it was tugged. In essence, measuring the dark flow provides a way to probe regions beyond the observable universe (or the multiverse).
Many people think multiverse models fit more comfortably in naturalists’ worldview. I argue to the contrary. Not only does the multiverse not help naturalists, but also it finds a welcome home in a Christian setting.
If you would like to see a question about the multiverse addressed in this forum, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. A. Kashlinsky et al., “A New Measurement of the Bulk Flow of X-Ray Luminous Clusters of Galaxies,” Astrophysical Journal 712 (March 20, 2010): L81–85