The Local Hole



Cosmology is in trouble, and scientists are pondering whether the latest observations warrant a serious revision of our current cosmological model. For decades, cosmologists have operated under the educated assumption, backed by a reasonable amount of observational data, that matter is more or less equally distributed across the vastness of the observable universe. Theoretical models attempting to define the initial conditions of the early universe, predict a random but uniform distribution of galaxies and galaxy clusters, whereby no part of the sky shows an overabundance of matter structures when measured at cosmic scales. Recent observations, however, may indicate some gaping holes in our understanding of how the cosmos evolved.

A team of scientists at England's Durham University Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, have analyzed an unusual cosmic bubble spanning more than 200 megaparsecs in all directions away from Earth. This galactic oddity, dubbed "The Local Hole," is strangely devoid of the hypothesized matter density expected to be there when we probe the galactic expanse with our instruments. What is going on, you may ask? Well, according to physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, the probability exists that the Standard Model of Cosmology, also known as Lambda cold dark matter (ΛCDM), is not entirely accurate.

If this proves to be the case, we can venture to say that the universe assembled itself in a manner contrary to expectations, but very conducive to life as we know it. Because these enormous galactic 'bubbles' lack the usual cosmic drama associated with densely-packed regions, we don't get as many supernovae or dense black hole populations lurking about, all potential threats to habitable planetary systems. It is also reasonable to speculate that if these spherical cosmic havens are ubiquitous throughout the universe, they could be used by intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations as markers for habitability, a not-too-farfetched reason why we get so many alien visitors.