Scientists say that they have found evidence that our universe was ‘jostled’ by other parallel universes in the distant past.
The incredible claim emerged after they studied patterns in the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) – the after-effects of the Big Bang.
They say they may have found evidence that four circular patterns found in the CMB are ‘cosmic bruises’ where our universe has crashed into other universes at least four times.
The findings are based on the complex theory of eternal inflation for our universe. This theory holds that out universe if only one bubble in a larger cosmos and that other universes,which will have different physics to our own, all exist at the same time.
This is also know as the the multiverse theory.
Where these universe bubbles crash against each other they leave signature traces in the background radiation, some scientists believe.
The findings, by Stephen Feeney from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at University College London, are likely to be controversial.
A number of cosmologists have already written in response to the paper that it is too easy to jump to conclusions about what can be seen in the CMB.
The team behind the paper accept that ‘it is rather easy to find all sorts of statistically unlikely properties in a large dataset like the CMB’.
But they add: ‘If a bubble collision is verified by future data, then we will gain an insight not only into our own universe but a multiverse beyond.’
The paper, published online yesterday, comes just a month after a similar study of the background radiation claimed to have discovered evidence that the universe existed before the Big Bang.
Most scientists believe the universe was created in the Big Bang around 13.7 billion years ago. Stars and galaxies started to form around 300 million years later. Our Sun was born around five billion years ago, while life first appeared on the Earth around 3.7 billion years ago.
The CMB dates back to 300,000 years after the Big Bang and has now cooled to around -270 degrees Celsius.
A paper posted online on the website arXiv.org by respected scientists Professor Roger Penrose from Oxford University and Professor Vahe Gurzadyan from Yerevan State University, Armenia, suggested the universe could be much older han previously thought.
Penrose and Gurzadyan argue that evidence unearthed by Nasa’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotophy Probe in the CMB shows imprints in the radiation that are older than the Big Bang.
They say they have discovered 12 examples of concentric circles, some of which have five rings, meaning the same object has had five massive events in its history.
The rings appear around galaxy clusters in which the variation in the background radiation appears to be strangely low.
The research appears to cast aside the widely-held ‘inflationary’ theory of the origins of the universe, that it began with the Big Bang, and will continue to expand until a point in the future, when it will end.
They believe the circles are imprints of extremely violent gravitational radiation waves generated by supermassive black hole collisions in a previous aeon before the last big bang.