Click here for free access to our latest coronavirus/COVID-19 research, commentary, and news.

Support nonprofit science journalism

Science’s extensive COVID-19 coverage is free to all readers. To support our nonprofit science journalism, please make a tax-deductible gift today.

ESA/Planck Collaboration (July 2018)

Universe could loop back on itself, study of ancient light suggests

An ant crawling straight along the equator of a globe will eventually circle back to its starting point. A new study of the oldest light there is, the cosmic microwave background (CMB), suggests that—similar to the globe—on the biggest scales the universe curves back on itself in a closed geometry, New Scientist reports. Other researchers are skeptical, however. The new claim, published this week in Nature Astronomy, rests on observations of how the gravity of the galaxies distorts or lenses the mottled CMB. However, other analyses of the same phenomena support a flat universe. Still, if the claim stands up, it would harpoon the concept of inflation, the idea that in the first infinitesimal fraction of a second, the newborn universe underwent an exponential growth spurt that stretched it flat as a billiard table.

Latest News