Inside Science News Service | 11 Oct 2010
Can Primordial Magnetic Fields Seeded by Electroweak StringsPhysicists are hot on the trail of one of strangest theorized structures in the universe. A team of researchers have announced what they think are the first indirect observations of ancient cosmic strings, bizarre objects thought to have contributed to the arrangement of objects throughout the universe.
First predicted back in the 1970s, cosmic strings are thought to be enormous fault lines that once existed in space. Not to be confused with the subatomic strings of string theory, cosmic strings are widely believed by astrophysicists to have formed billions of years ago, just moments after the Big Bang when the universe was still a soupy mass of extremely hot matter. As the universe cooled, defects formed between different regions of space that cooled in different ways, much like cracks forming in the ice on a frozen pond. These defects in space were the cosmic strings.
Although researchers have not yet directly observed the strings themselves, the team believes they found evidence of them hidden in ancient quasars, enormous black holes that shoot out mighty jets of light and radiation, found at the heart of many galaxies.
The presumed cosmic strings were incredibly narrow, thinner than the diameter of a proton, but so dense that a string less than a mile in length would weigh more than the Earth. As the universe expanded, so too did these strings until they either stretched across the known universe, or into enormous rings thousands of times larger than our galaxy.
Cause an Alignment of Quasar Axes on Cosmological Scales? - R Poltis, D Stojkovic