Milky Way may contain Interstellar-style space-time tunnel

An Interstellar-style space-time tunnel may exist in the Milky Way and we could even travel through it…

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An Interstellar-style space-time tunnel may exist in the Milky Way and we could even travel through it, according to a new theory proposed by an international team of scientists, including those from India.

Based on the latest evidence and theories our galaxy could be a huge wormhole and, if that were true, it could be “stable and navigable,” scientists say.

“If we combine the map of the dark matter in the Milky Way with the most recent Big Bang model to explain the universe and we hypothesise the existence of space-time tunnels, what we get is that our galaxy could really contain one of these tunnels, and that the tunnel could even be the size of the galaxy itself. But there’s more,” said Paolo Salucci, astrophysicist of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste, Italy, and a dark matter expert.

“We could even travel through this tunnel, since, based on our calculations, it could be navigable. Just like the one we’ve all seen in the recent film ‘Interstellar’,” Salucci said.

The research was published in a paper in the Annals of Physics, which Salucci authored with Farook Rahaman from Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India, and a group of Indian and North American researchers.

Although space-time tunnels (or wormholes or Einstein-Penrose bridges) have only recently gained great popularity among the public thanks to Christopher Nolan’s 2014 sci-fi film, Interstellar, they have been the focus of astrophysicists’ attention for many years, researchers said.

“Obviously we’re not claiming that our galaxy is definitely a wormhole, but simply that, according to theoretical models, this hypothesis is a possibility,” said Salucci.

“In principle, we could test it by comparing two galaxies – our galaxy and another, very close one like, for example, the Magellanic Cloud, but we are still very far from any actual possibility of making such a comparison,” he said.

To reach their conclusions the astrophysicists combined the equations of general relativity with an extremely detailed map of the distribution of dark matter in the Milky Way.

The map was obtained from a study they carried out in 2013.

“Beyond the sci-fi hypothesis, our research is interesting because it proposes a more complex reflection on dark matter,” Salucci said.

Salucci pointed out that scientists have long tried to explain dark matter by hypothesising the existence of a particular particle, the neutralino, which, however, has never been identified at CERN or observed in the universe.

But alternative theories also exist that don’t rely on the particle, “and perhaps it’s time for scientists to take this issue ‘seriously’,” said Salucci.

“Dark matter may be ‘another dimension’, perhaps even a major galactic transport system. In any case, we really need to start asking ourselves what it is,” he said.

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First published on: 22-01-2015 at 18:01 IST