Scientists on the verge of discovering a new fifth force of nature that will change how we see the universe

“If confirmed by further experiments, this discovery of a possible fifth force would completely change our understanding of the universe,” says UCI professor of physics & astronomy Jonathan Feng, including what holds together galaxies such as this spiral one, called NGC 6814. ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt Spiral galaxies together with irregular galaxies make up approximately 60% of the galaxies in the local Universe. However, despite their prevalence, each spiral galaxy is unique Ñ like snowflakes, no two are alike. This is demonstrated by the striking face-on spiral galaxy NGC 6814, whose luminous nucleus and spectacular sweeping arms, rippled with an intricate pattern of dark dust, are captured in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image. NGC 6814 has an extremely bright nucleus, a telltale sign that the galaxy is a Seyfert galaxy. These galaxies have very active centres that can emit strong bursts of radiation. The luminous heart of NGC 6814 is a highly variable source of X-ray radiation, causing scientists to suspect that it hosts a supermassive black hole with a mass about 18 million times that of the Sun. As NGC 6814 is a very active galaxy, many regions of ionised gas are studded along Êits spiral arms. In these large clouds of gas, a burst of star formation has recently taken place, forging the brilliant blue stars that are visible scattered throughout the galaxy. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt Text credit: European Space Agency

“If confirmed by further experiments, this discovery of a possible fifth force would completely change our understanding of the universe,” says UCI professor of physics & astronomy Jonathan Feng, including what holds together galaxies such as this spiral one, called NGC 6814.
ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt
Spiral galaxies together with irregular galaxies make up approximately 60% of the galaxies in the local Universe. However, despite their prevalence, each spiral galaxy is unique Ñ like snowflakes, no two are alike. This is demonstrated by the striking face-on spiral galaxy NGC 6814, whose luminous nucleus and spectacular sweeping arms, rippled with an intricate pattern of dark dust, are captured in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image. NGC 6814 has an extremely bright nucleus, a telltale sign that the galaxy is a Seyfert galaxy. These galaxies have very active centres that can emit strong bursts of radiation. The luminous heart of NGC 6814 is a highly variable source of X-ray radiation, causing scientists to suspect that it hosts a supermassive black hole with a mass about 18 million times that of the Sun. As NGC 6814 is a very active galaxy, many regions of ionised gas are studded along Êits spiral arms. In these large clouds of gas, a burst of star formation has recently taken place, forging the brilliant blue stars that are visible scattered throughout the galaxy.
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt
Text credit: European Space Agency

Since the mid-1970s, modern physics has rested on the knowledge of four fundamental forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force.

Now scientists are on the verge of discovering a fifth force of nature, which could change the field of physics forever.

Jonathan Feng, from the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues conducted an analysis of data that were gathered by researchers from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences during a research on the so-called dark photons.

The mid-2015 study detected evidence of the previously unknown subatomic particle 30 times heavier than electron. Dark photon, the hypothetical elementary particle, is proposed as an electromagnetic force carrier for dark matter, which comprises 85 percent of the mass of the universe. It was first proposed in 2008.

The Hungarian physicists’ study merely indicated the discovery of a new particle, but findings of the new study by Feng and colleagues suggest that it was not dark photon that was discovered but a protophobic X boson. The existence of this particle could be an indication of a fifth force of nature.

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