Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »



The universe seems to be asymmetric in a number of strange ways. The molecules of life tend to be left handed rather than right handed, the certain weak decays such as the beta decay of cobalt-60 are asymmetric and cosmologists have seen a number of unexplained asymmetries in the cosmic microwave background.

Michael Longo at the University of Michigan has long been searching for another asymmetry–a preference for right or left handedness in spiral galaxies. And he says he’s found it, previously in an analysis of over 2600 nearby spiral galaxies and now in an analysis of 15,000 more.

The evidence seems to indicate that left handed spirals are more common in the northern hemisphere, above the northern galactic pole. And although the signal is less strong, right-handed spirals appear more frequently in the south.

What’s more, Longo says the axis of this alignment points directly towards the mysterious cold spot in the cosmic microwave background, which was discovered in the southern hemisphere in 2004

Nobody knows what caused the cold spot although there are no shortage of ideas. The cold spot could be evidence that our galaxy sits in the middle of a supervoid, a giant empty bubble, say some researchers. Others say it could be the imprint of a parallel universe beyond our own.

If Longo’s bias is real and linked to the spot, get ready for another round of speculation that attempts to link these observations together.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0904.2529: Evidence for a Preferred Handedness of Spiral Galaxies

8 comments. Share your thoughts »

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me