Some recent evidence against the Big Bang

I am sub­mit­ting this on be­half of MazeHat­ter, who origi­nally posted it here in the most re­cent open tread. Go there to up­vote if you like this sub­mis­sion.

Be­gin MazeHat­ter:

I grew up think­ing that the Big Bang was the be­gin­ning of it all. In 2013 and 2014 a good num­ber of ob­ser­va­tions have thrown some of our ba­sic as­sump­tions about the the­ory into ques­tion. There were anoma­lies ob­served in the CMB, pre­vi­ously ig­nored, now con­firmed by Planck:

Another is an asym­me­try in the av­er­age tem­per­a­tures on op­po­site hemi­spheres of the sky. This runs counter to the pre­dic­tion made by the stan­dard model that the Uni­verse should be broadly similar in any di­rec­tion we look.

Fur­ther­more, a cold spot ex­tends over a patch of sky that is much larger than ex­pected.

The asym­me­try and the cold spot had already been hinted at with Planck’s pre­de­ces­sor, NASA’s WMAP mis­sion, but were largely ig­nored be­cause of lin­ger­ing doubts about their cos­mic ori­gin.

“The fact that Planck has made such a sig­nifi­cant de­tec­tion of these anoma­lies erases any doubts about their re­al­ity; it can no longer be said that they are arte­facts of the mea­sure­ments. They are real and we have to look for a cred­ible ex­pla­na­tion,” says Paolo Na­toli of the Univer­sity of Fer­rara, Italy.

… One way to ex­plain the anoma­lies is to pro­pose that the Uni­verse is in fact not the same in all di­rec­tions on a larger scale than we can ob­serve. …

“Our ul­ti­mate goal would be to con­struct a new model that pre­dicts the anoma­lies and links them to­gether. But these are early days; so far, we don’t know whether this is pos­si­ble and what type of new physics might be needed. And that’s ex­cit­ing,” says Pro­fes­sor Efs­tathiou.


We are also get­ting a bet­ter look at galax­ies at greater dis­tances, think­ing they would all be young galax­ies, and find­ing they are not:

The find­ing raises new ques­tions about how these galax­ies formed so rapidly and why they stopped form­ing stars so early. It is an enigma that these galax­ies seem to come out of nowhere.



The newly clas­sified galax­ies are strik­ing in that they look a lot like those in to­day’s uni­verse, with disks, bars and spiral arms. But the­o­rists pre­dict that these should have taken an­other 2 billion years to be­gin to form, so things seem to have been set­tling down a lot ear­lier than ex­pected.

B. D. Sim­mons et al. Galaxy Zoo: CANDELS Barred Disks and Bar Frac­tions. Monthly No­tices of the Royal Astro­nom­i­cal So­ciety, 2014 DOI: 10.1093/​mn­ras/​stu1817


The find­ings cast doubt on cur­rent mod­els of galaxy for­ma­tion, which strug­gle to ex­plain how these re­mote and young galax­ies grew so big so fast.


Although it seems we don’t have to look so far away to find ev­i­dence that galaxy for­ma­tion is in­con­sis­tent with the Big Bang timeline.

If the mod­ern galaxy for­ma­tion the­ory were right, these dwarf galax­ies sim­ply wouldn’t ex­ist.

Mer­rick and study lead Mar­cel Pawlowski con­sider them­selves part of a small-but-grow­ing group of ex­perts ques­tion­ing the wis­dom of cur­rent as­tro­nom­i­cal mod­els.

“When you have a clear con­tra­dic­tion like this, you ought to fo­cus on it,” Mer­ritt said. “This is how progress in sci­ence is made.”



Another ob­ser­va­tion is that lithium abun­dances are way too low for the the­ory in other places, not just here:

A star cluster some 80,000 light-years from Earth looks mys­te­ri­ously defi­cient in the el­e­ment lithium, just like nearby stars, as­tronomers re­ported on Wed­nes­day.

That cu­ri­ous defi­ciency sug­gests that as­tro­physi­cists ei­ther don’t fully un­der­stand the big bang, they sug­gest, or else don’t fully un­der­stand the way that stars work.


It also seems there is larger scale struc­ture con­tinu­ally be­ing dis­cov­ered larger than the Big Bang is thought to ac­count for:

“The first odd thing we no­ticed was that some of the quasars’ ro­ta­tion axes were al­igned with each other—de­spite the fact that these quasars are sep­a­rated by billions of light-years,” said Hut­semék­ers. The team then went fur­ther and looked to see if the ro­ta­tion axes were linked, not just to each other, but also to the struc­ture of the Uni­verse on large scales at that time.

“The al­ign­ments in the new data, on scales even big­ger than cur­rent pre­dic­tions from simu­la­tions, may be a hint that there is a miss­ing in­gre­di­ent in our cur­rent mod­els of the cos­mos,” con­cludes Do­minique Sluse.


D. Hut­semék­ers, L. Braibant, V. Pel­grims, D. Sluse. Align­ment of quasar po­lariza­tions with large-scale struc­tures. Astron­omy & Astro­physics, 2014

Dr Clowes said: “While it is difficult to fathom the scale of this LQG, we can say quite definitely it is the largest struc­ture ever seen in the en­tire uni­verse. This is hugely ex­cit­ing—not least be­cause it runs counter to our cur­rent un­der­stand­ing of the scale of the uni­verse.


Th­ese ob­ser­va­tions have been made just re­cently. It seems that in the 1980′s, when I was first in­tro­duced to the Big Bang as a child, the ex­perts in the field knew then there were prob­lems with it, and de­vised in­fla­tion as a solu­tion. And to­day, the val­idity of that solu­tion is be­ing called into ques­tion by those same ex­perts:

In light of these ar­gu­ments, the oft-cited claim that cos­molog­i­cal data have ver­ified the cen­tral pre­dic­tions of in­fla­tion­ary the­ory is mis­lead­ing, at best. What one can say is that data have con­firmed pre­dic­tions of the naive in­fla­tion­ary the­ory as we un­der­stood it be­fore 1983, but this the­ory is not in­fla­tion­ary cos­mol­ogy as un­der­stood to­day. The naive the­ory sup­poses that in­fla­tion leads to a pre­dictable out­come gov­erned by the laws of clas­si­cal physics. The truth is that quan­tum physics rules in­fla­tion, and any­thing that can hap­pen will hap­pen. And if in­fla­tion­ary the­ory makes no firm pre­dic­tions, what is its point?


What are the odds 2015 will be more like 2014 where we (again) found larger and older galax­ies at greater dis­tances, or will it be more like 1983?