Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New theory links neutrino’s slight mass to accelerating universe expansion

28.07.2004


Two of the biggest physics breakthroughs during the last decade are the discovery that wispy subatomic particles called neutrinos actually have a small amount of mass and the detection that the expansion of the universe is actually picking up speed.

Now three University of Washington physicists are suggesting the two discoveries are integrally linked through one of the strangest features of the universe, dark energy, a linkage they say could be caused by a previously unrecognized subatomic particle they call the "acceleron."

Dark energy was negligible in the early universe, but now it accounts for about 70 percent of the cosmos. Understanding the phenomenon could help to explain why someday, long in the future, the universe will expand so much that no other stars or galaxies will be visible in our night sky, and ultimately it could help scientists discern whether expansion of the universe will go on indefinitely.



In this new theory, neutrinos are influenced by a new force resulting from their interactions with accelerons. Dark energy results as the universe tries to pull neutrinos apart, yielding a tension like that in stretched rubber band, said Ann Nelson, a UW physics professor. That tension fuels the expansion of the universe, she said.

Neutrinos are created by the trillions in the nuclear furnaces of stars such as our sun. They stream through the universe, and billions pass through all matter, including people, every second. Besides a minuscule mass, they have no electrical charge, which means they interact very little, if at all, with the materials they pass through.

But the interaction between accelerons and other matter is even weaker, Nelson said, which is why those particles have not yet been seen by sophisticated detectors. However, in the new theory, accelerons exhibit a force that can influence neutrinos, a force she believes can be detected by a variety of neutrino experiments already operating around the world.

"There are many models of dark energy, but the tests are mostly limited to cosmology, in particular measuring the rate of expansion of the universe. Because this involves observing very distant objects, it is very difficult to make such a measurement precisely," Nelson said.

"This is the only model that gives us some meaningful way to do experiments on earth to find the force that gives rise to dark energy. We can do this using existing neutrino experiments."

The new theory is advanced in a paper by Nelson; David Kaplan, also a UW physics professor; and Neal Weiner, a UW research associate in physics. Their work, supported in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, is detailed in a paper accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of Physical Review Letters, a journal of the American Physical Society.

The researchers say a neutrino’s mass can actually change according to the environment through which it is passing, in the same way the appearance of light changes depending on whether it’s traveling through air, water or a prism. That means that neutrino detectors can come up with somewhat different findings depending on where they are and what surrounds them.

But if neutrinos are a component of dark energy, that suggests the existence of a force that would reconcile anomalies among the various experiments, Nelson said. The existence of that force, made up of both neutrinos and accelerons, will continue to fuel the expansion of the universe, she said.

Physicists have pursued evidence that could tell whether the universe will continue to expand indefinitely or come to an abrupt halt and collapse on itself in a so-called "big crunch." While the new theory doesn’t prescribe a "big crunch," Nelson said, it does mean that at some point the expansion will stop getting faster.

"In our theory, eventually the neutrinos would get too far apart and become too massive to be influenced by the effect of dark energy any more, so the acceleration of the expansion would have to stop," she said. "The universe could continue to expand, but at an ever-decreasing rate."

Vince Stricherz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.washington.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte
17.08.2018 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

nachricht Protecting the power grid: Advanced plasma switch for more efficient transmission
17.08.2018 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>