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‘Clumpy’ universe may force rethinking of cosmology

The universe appears to be clumpier than astronomers expected, according to the largest galaxy survey to date. The extra clumps could call for a redesign of the standard model of cosmology, and maybe a new understanding of how gravity works.

“Maybe on very large scales, Einstein’s general relativity is slightly wrong,” said cosmologist Shaun Thomas of University College London, lead author of a new paper in Physical Review Letters. “This potentially could be one of the first signs that something peculiar is going on.”

When viewed close up, the matter in the universe bunches up into stars, galaxies and galaxy clusters. But as you zoom out, cosmologists expect the universe to look more and more smooth, sort of the way details in an earthly landscape blend together when viewed from an airplane.

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