Are Newton’s Laws of Gravity Wrong: Observation Puzzles Researchers

Broken Gravity Concept

Astrophysicists have made a puzzling discovery while analyzing certain star clusters. The finding challenges Newton’s laws of gravity. Instead, the observations are consistent with the predictions of an alternative theory of gravity. (Artistic concept of strange gravity.)

Finding cannot be explained by classical assumptions.

An international team of astrophysicists has made a puzzling discovery while analyzing certain star clusters. The finding challenges Newton’s laws of gravity, the researchers write in their publication. Instead, the observations are consistent with the predictions of an alternative theory of gravity. However, this is controversial among experts. The results have now been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The University of Bonn played a major role in the study.

In their work, the researchers investigated the so-called open star clusters, which are loosely bound groups of a few tens to a few hundred stars that are found in spiral and irregular galaxies. Open clusters are formed when thousands of stars are born within a short time in a huge gas cloud. As they “ignite,” the galactic newcomers blow away the remnants of the gas cloud. In the process, the cluster greatly expands. This creates a loose formation of several dozen to several thousand stars. The cluster is held together by the weak gravitational forces acting between them.

“In most cases, open star clusters survive only a few hundred million years before they dissolve,” explains Prof. Dr. Pavel Kroupa of the Helmholtz Institute of Radiation and Nuclear Physics at the University of Bonn. In the process, they regularly lose stars, which accumulate in two so-called “tidal tails.” One of these tails is pulled behind the cluster as it travels through space. In contrast, the other one takes the lead like a spearhead.

Pavel Kroupa

Prof. Dr. Pavel Kroupa of the Helmholtz Institute of Radiation and Nuclear Physics at the University of Bonn. Credit: Volker Lannert / University of Bonn

“According to Newton’s laws of gravity, it’s a matter of chance in which of the tails a lost star ends up,” explains Dr. Jan Pflamm-Altenburg of the Helmholtz Institute of Radiation and Nuclear Physics. “So both tails should contain about the same number of stars. However, in our work we were able to prove for the first time that this is not true: In the clusters we studied, the front tail always contains significantly more stars nearby to the cluster than the rear tail.”

New method developed for counting stars

From among the millions of stars close to a cluster, it has been almost impossible to determine those that belong to its tails—until now. “To do this, you have to look at the velocity, direction of motion, and age of each of these objects,” explains Dr. Tereza Jerabkova. The co-author of the paper, who did her doctorate in Kroupa’s group, recently moved from the European Space Agency (ESA) to the European Southern Observatory in Garching. She developed a method that allowed her to accurately count the stars in the tails for the first time. “So far, five open clusters have been investigated near us, including four by us,” she says. “When we analyzed all the data, we encountered the contradiction with the current theory. The very precise survey data from ESA’s Gaia space mission were indispensable for this.”

Hyades Star Cluster Front Tidal Tale

In the star cluster “Hyades” (top), the number of stars (black) in the front tidal tail is significantly larger than those in the rear. In the computer simulation with MOND (below), a similar picture emerges. Credit: AG Kroupa/Uni Bonn

The observational data, in contrast, fit much better with a theory that goes by the acronym MOND (“MOdified Newtonian Dynamics”) among experts. “Put simply, according to MOND, stars can leave a cluster through two different doors,” Kroupa explains. “One leads to the rear tidal tail, the other to the front. However, the first is much narrower than the second — so it’s less likely that a star will leave the cluster through it. Newton’s theory of gravity, on the other hand, predicts that both doors should be the same width.”

Star clusters are shorter-lived than Newton’s laws predict

The team of astrophysicists calculated the stellar distribution expected according to MOND. “The results correspond surprisingly well with the observations,” highlights Dr. Ingo Thies, who played a key role in the corresponding simulations. “However, we had to resort to relatively simple computational methods to do this. We currently lack the mathematical tools for more detailed analyses of modified Newtonian dynamics.” Nevertheless, the simulations also coincided with the observations in another respect: They predicted how long open star clusters should typically survive. And this time span is significantly shorter than would be expected according to Newton’s laws. “This explains a mystery that has been known for a long time,” Kroupa points out. “Namely, star clusters in nearby galaxies seem to be disappearing faster than they should.”

However, the MOND theory is not undisputed among experts. Since Newton’s laws of gravity would not be valid under certain circumstances, but would have to be modified, this would have far-reaching consequences for other areas of physics as well. “Then again, it solves many of the problems that cosmology faces today,” explains Kroupa, who is also a member of the Transdisciplinary Research Areas “Modelling” and “Matter” at the University of Bonn. The astrophysicists are now exploring new mathematical methods for even more accurate simulations. They could then be used to find further evidence as to whether the MOND theory is correct or not.

Reference: “Asymmetrical tidal tails of open star clusters: stars crossing their cluster’s práh challenge Newtonian gravitation” by Pavel Kroupa, Tereza Jerabkova, Ingo Thies, Jan Pflamm-Altenburg, Benoit Famaey, Henri M J Boffin, Jörg Dabringhausen, Giacomo Beccari, Timo Prusti, Christian Boily, Hosein Haghi, Xufen Wu, Jaroslav Haas, Akram Hasani Zonoozi, Guillaume Thomas, Ladislav Šubr and Sverre J Aarseth, 26 October 2022, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stac2563

In addition to the University of Bonn, the study involved the Charles University in Prague, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Garching, the Observatoire astronomique de Strasbourg, the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESA ESTEC) in Nordwijk, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences (IASBS) in Zanjan (Iran), the University of Science and Technology of China, the Universidad de La Laguna in Tenerife, and the University of Cambridge.

The study was funded by the Scholarship Program of the Czech Republic, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the French funding organization Agence nationale de la recherche (ANR), and the European Research Council ERC.

14 Comments on "Are Newton’s Laws of Gravity Wrong: Observation Puzzles Researchers"

  1. They need to show why Newtonian and GR are incorrect here. I very much doubt they are and I very very much doubt MOND. So far what they are doing is correlation and not causation. A Critical omission that is unacceptable!

  2. Fixed gravity for you. | October 29, 2022 at 10:33 am | Reply

    Looks like the horizontal zero axis is moved off to the left for an artificial center of gravity, so the mass center is off to the right and the right side seems also understandably compressed in the direction of motion.

  3. Fixed gravity for you. | October 29, 2022 at 10:39 am | Reply

    There’s seemingly a hint of frame drift buried in the explanation, but besides that the energies are low, nowhere near lightspeed relative motions, hence Newton is the target here.

  4. Fixed gravity for you. | October 29, 2022 at 11:38 am | Reply

    Another thing that could be biasing the distribution is binaries could easily be more prevalent on the leading edge. Antiparallel dipole-dipole pairings can cause all sorts of spooky signal drop-out mischief on the quantum scale and the macro scale is not completely different, stars have dipole moments as they do rotate with magnetic fields, and binaries block each other’s brightness in turn

  5. I’m no physicist but this looks like standard Doplar compression to me. Why is anyone shocked that stars are acting like really big particles? I’m the vastness of the universe, doesn’t a star scale to the size of a particle?

  6. Another disingenuous article trying to make MOND happen by pretending its one correction prediction outweighs all the other ways it fails. If you have to lie about it, what good is it?

  7. > Nordwijk

    It’s spelled Noordwijk

  8. Alot of older theries and so called Laws are being questioned with new
    findings and technology.

  9. Charles G. Shaver | October 30, 2022 at 9:53 am | Reply

    Professional scientists; such slow learners. I’ve been writing of the locally induced pulsating radiating lines of gravity force nature of gravity down to the atomic level since 2012, in my first low budget gravity demonstration video since uploaded to Odysee dot com/@charlesgshaver, since deleting my entire YouTube channel for censoring me about the true natures of now multiple epidemic chronic diseases and the Covid-19 ‘scamdemic.’ Higher education and funding are no substitutes for higher intelligence and/or intuition.

  10. Who detects pulsating gravity?
    Who sees lines of gravity force?

    Anyone? Seriously?

    • Charles G. Shaver | November 1, 2022 at 4:20 am | Reply

      I do, Not me. Pulsating lines of gravity force can explain mistaken thinking that photons, electrons and small molecules can be both particles and waves in double-slit experiments. And, enhanced gravity in rotating objects, which can better account for the effects of imaginary “dark matter,” can also be explained with pulsating lines of gravity force.

  11. Fixed gravity for you. | October 30, 2022 at 7:24 pm | Reply

    Frame drag (Gravity Probe B) and quantum gravity entanglement-based underground structure sensors are two examples of subnuclear-scale gravity information flow (flux), not a time-varying extradimensional potential, or a time-bending worm-bridge arrow-chain, or anything spooky like that, as fundamental to gravity. Gravity information flow in 3D vacuum space is best (and more richly) modelled by a vector formalism or flux line formalism. “Pulsation” is of course what makes a heart jump, which is spooky. Dipole interactions are the roots of unity in vacuum fields, photons and nucleons can be treated as dipoles. Neutrinos oscillate, evidence they are dipoles.

  12. Volodymyr Krasnoholovets | October 31, 2022 at 3:08 am | Reply

    Here, the main problem is that the authors specified in the article belong to a closed club that publishes articles only in journals such as Physical Review and also read these same journals. So their horizons are very limited! Everything falls into place when one takes into account Space and its structure. This is all done in my works, in particular in books: 1) Structure of Space and the Submicroscopic Deterministic Concept of Physics; 2) The Origin of Gravity From First Principles. More information is in my web site

  13. The law of gravity may be downgraded to only a theory of gravity.

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