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Open star clusters – astronomical observation contradicts popular gravitational theory

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Open star clusters like the well-known Pleiades are loose clusters of a few tens to several thousand stars bound together by weak gravitational forces. © Imago Images / Shot Shop

Observing open star clusters leads researchers to a discovery that contradicts Newton’s laws of gravitation.

Bonn – an international research team, with the participation of researchers from the University of Bonn, took part in astronomical observation open star cluster He made a mysterious discovery. It defies Newton’s laws of gravitation, the researchers wrote in their study published in commercial newspaper Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Back he is.

Open star clusters, such as the well-known Hyades or Pleiades in the constellation Taurus, are formed when thousands of stars are born in a short period of time in a huge cloud of gas. When it “ignites”, it inflates the remnants of a gas cloud, causing the mound to expand. A loose network of a few dozen to several thousand stars is formed, which are connected to each other by weak gravitational forces. “Most open star clusters live only a few hundred million years before fading out,” explains Pavel Karpa of the University of Bonn. message. Star clusters regularly lose stars, which are grouped into the so-called “tidal arms”. One arm is behind the star cluster, and one is in front of it.

The behavior of an open star cluster contradicts Newton’s laws of gravitation

The Newton’s laws of gravitation It’s just a coincidence that the missing star fell through the arms, says study co-author Jan Pflamm-Altenburg. Accordingly, both arms should contain approximately the same number of stars. “In our work, we were able to prove that this is not true for the first time,” explains Pflamm-Altenburg, and continues: “In the clusters we examined, the front arm always contained significantly more stars than the back arm.”

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The amazing thing: that the observational data collected and evaluated by researchers for their study does not fit into Newton’s laws of gravitation, but fits into a thesis that experts call MOND (Modified Newton Dynamics). “Simply put, stars can leave a block through two different doors, according to MOON,” Kroupa explains. “One leads back tides and the other forwards. However, the first is much narrower than the second, which makes the star less likely to exit the cluster through it. On the other hand, Newton’s gravitational theory predicts that both doors should be the same width.”

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The alternative theory of gravity solves many mysteries

Ingo Thies, who was involved in the corresponding simulations, asserts that the predicted star distribution “is in surprisingly good agreement with the observations”. According to a statement from the University of Bonn, the simulations also agree with the observations on the other hand: they predict how long open star clusters will survive — and much shorter than expected according to Newton. “This explains a long-known mystery, which is that star clusters in nearby galaxies appear to be disappearing faster than they should,” explains Kroupa.

MOND theory is controversial in the professional world

But there is a problem: MOND theory is controversial in the professional world. In it, Newton’s gravitational laws will not apply under certain conditions, but will have to be modified – which will have far-reaching consequences for other areas of physics. “On the other hand, it solves many of the problems that cosmology struggles with today,” notes Kroupa.

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Another thing different in MOON theory: There is nothing in it dark matter A material created in the 1930s to explain the contradictions in the observed motion of stars and galaxies. Dark matter fills the holes with large amounts of invisible mass that researchers have been searching for for so long. So far they haven’t found anything. Whether this means MOND is the most valid theory is not yet clear – the researchers in the current study are working on further simulations which should find more evidence that speaks for or against the MOND theory. (tab)