Media reported that a way to unify conflicting scientific models into the “Theory of Everything” is essentially the holy grail of physics. Now, one of the first experimental tests of these theories has been carried out by a NASA observatory, which is to search space for evidence of imaginary particles that may link the universe.
The standard model of particle physics, while well done to explain the nanoscales of the universe, is another thing when it rises to the macro scale, such as one of its biggest holes being that it doesn’t cover gravity.
At the other end of the scale, Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity has proved resilient in the physics of describing large mass objects such as planets, stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies. Unfortunately, it also starts to collapse when it faces the quantum scale.
For decades, science has been unable to combine these two distinct fields. In fact, the exploration of the theory of unity of all things has cost some of the best scholars of modern times, such as Einstein and Stephen Hawking, most of the time.
One of the main competitors is called the “superstring theory”. There are several different versions of the superstring theory, and while some seem more likely than others, the problem is that it is hard to find any evidence of support, leading many scientists to believe that this pursuit is pointless.
But there may be clues. The superstring theory predicts the existence of an imaginary particle called an axon, which has a very small mass and may be converted into photons as it passes through a magnetic field. In other cases, the opposite may be true. These particles may be the answer to this phenomenon.
Now, an international team is using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to look for signs of the presence of these axes in the Enceladus galaxy cluster. The constellation of Enceladus is about 240 million light-years from Earth. If there are axes, they distort the X-ray energy when they are converted into photons.
“While finding tiny particles like axes in huge structures like galaxy clusters sounds unlikely, they are actually a place to look for,” said study co-author David Marsh. Adding these features together increases the likelihood of discovering the conversion of class-axis particles. “
X-ray images of the Enceladus Galaxy Cluster taken by the Chandra X-ray Observatory
The team studied more than five days of data that Chandra collected on the Enceladus galaxy cluster. Specifically, the telescope measures the intensity of X-rays produced at different energies when matter falls into a supermassive black hole at the center of the cluster. If the axes were there, the light would be distorted when they were converted into photons, and Chandra should be able to spot them.
Unfortunately not. While this may mean that the axes do not exist, the team also says the particles may be of higher mass than they tested, or that they may not be as difficult to convert into photons as expected.
In response, study co-author Helen Russell noted that their study did not rule out the presence of these particles.
The study was published in Astrophysical Journal.