The universe is smooth, not a fractal at large scales, say astronomers

fractal brocoflower (flickr)

A new paper confirms a conventional picture of the universe, one that is smooth and homogeneous at very large scales, losing its fractal structure when we zoom out far enough. The finding means that astronomers are justified in measuring average quantities over large spatial volumes — there’s no hidden lumpiness messing up the math. This is good news, since a fractal structure at large scales would mean that “Einstein’s equations are being wrongly applied, and our understanding of things like dark energy could be deeply flawed,” says the paper’s lead author, Morag Scrimgeour (video below).

Our current picture of the universe goes like this: hundreds of billions of stars group together to form galaxies, galaxies clump together to…

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