Top 10 Mysteries of the Universe

The entire universe offers a vast field of study and speculation for astronomers and scientists. And as science advances and new discoveries are made, more questions arise about the workings of space, about our own origin, and even about the possibilities of the universe coming to an end.

Some of the mysteries that intrigue researchers involve phenomena that escape understanding and raise questions about the reasons for their peculiarities. This is the case of the rectangular galaxy and the magnetic field in part of the lunar crust. Discover the top ten questions about the universe that still make many astronomers and scientists sleep these days.

1. What is dark matter?

In the cosmological model accepted by the scientific community, the universe is composed of energies and particles that interfere with the gravity, expansion and acceleration of space. 73% of density is believed to be dark energy, which would have the negative pressure effect on the universe; and 23% dark matter, which hypothetically has gravitational effects on visible matter.

Being completely invisible to telescopes and emitting no light or electromagnetic radiation, dark matter is extremely difficult to study. Scientists speculate that it is composed of subatomic particles different from those of visible matter, but its gravitational effect is noticeable in the movements of galaxies and stars.

One of the key resources for studying dark matter is the AMS (Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer) project at the International Space Station, which collects data on the cosmic ray flux in Earth's orbit. Read more here about this scientific research.

2. The magnetism in the craters of the moon

One of the moon's greatest mysteries, as well as its origin and formation, is the presence of highly magnetized fields on the surface, but only in some parts of the crust and not in its entirety. The South Pole-Aitken basin region, home to the largest crater on the moon's surface, also has the highest concentration of satellite magnetism and has attracted the attention of scientists.

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This large crater is believed to have been formed by the impact of a 200-kilometer-long asteroid some 4.5 billion years ago. This asteroid may have left a tremendous amount of some form of iron that spread unevenly across the lunar crust, producing these magnetic anomalies still detected today.

Scientists also speculate whether the moon had any kind of electromagnetic field after its formation, which would be present even in the event of the asteroid's major impact, but which has disappeared over time. Computer simulations indicate that the lunar field actually existed and that the magnetism found in surface regions is as much a part of space materials as remains of the electromagnetic field that still resist on the satellite.

3. The Rectangular Galaxy

The LEDA 074886 dwarf galaxy, detected in 2012, is located 70 million light-years away, but even over the long haul it draws attention for its rectangular appearance. Galaxies are usually oval-shaped, such as disks, three-dimensional ellipses, sometimes even irregularly curved, but this new galaxy has a rather peculiar appearance with sharper corners.

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According to some speculations, the rectangular aspect may be the result of colliding two spiral-shaped galaxies. LEDA 074886 can be seen as a rectangle or even resembling a diamond, but has a circular orientation disc in the center. It is believed that the galaxy must lose its hard corners over billions of years.

4. The lithium problem

Lithium is one of the elements, along with helium and hydrogen, which should be abundant in the universe because it is directly linked to nuclear synthesis processes. However, the observation of ancient stars, made of material similar to the one that produced the Big Bang, revealed much less lithium than predicted by theoretical models. The small amount of the element in the stars became known in the scientific world as "lithium problem".

New research indicates that part of this lithium may be mixed with the center of the stars, out of sight of telescopes. At the same time, in the theoretical field, researchers suggest that axions, hypothetical subatomic particles, may have absorbed protons and reduced the amount of lithium created just after the Big Bang.

5. The recycling of the universe

In recent years, astronomers have noted that galaxies form new stars at a rate that seems to consume more matter than they appeared to have. A new study with distant galaxies may have found the answer to this mystery. The galaxies seem to draw back into their center a gas that they produce themselves, which may solve the question of the origin of raw matter in the formation of new stars.

6. Radiation bubbles in the center of the Milky Way

The Fermi telescope, capable of detecting gamma rays in space, recorded in 2010 gigantic radiation bubbles emanating in opposite directions from the center of the Milky Way. These structures extend 20, 000 light years up and down the space plane.

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Scientists have speculated that this radiation may be the result of the shock of stars being consumed by the huge black hole in the center of the galaxy.

7. Why do pulsars pulsate?

Pulsar neutron stars have the particularity of emitting electromagnetic radiation at regular intervals, like the rotating beam of light from a beacon. Although the first pulse was discovered in 1967, scientists are still trying to decipher the causes of energy pulses. It has been observed that magnetic currents influence the misalignment of the poles and the emission of radiation, but there is no explanation for the magnetic fluctuation that moves the pulsars.

8. Are we alone?

The question that does not want to be silent: are we alone in the universe? In 1961 astrophysicist Frank Drake postulated a controversial equation suggesting that, given many factors, the likelihood of life elsewhere is extremely high. Drake counted the formation of new stars, the number of stars with planets, the combination of conditions for life, among other specifications. We have not yet found life in any corner of the galaxy, but that does not mean we should lose hope.

9. The End of the Universe

Theorists believe the universe started with the Big Bang, but there is still much doubt as to how it will end. It is not possible to know whether the universe will continue to expand to the point of disintegration of all matter, the Big Rip, or whether expansion will cease and the space plane will go into condensation, the so-called Big Crunch.

10. Parallel Universes

We may not be alone and we may not be unique. The theory of physical researchers is that we can be in a multiverse with other parallel universes. Speculation suggests thinking of our universe as a bubble, like a snow globe, and that other alternative universes exist within their own bubbles. Despite being a concept very close to science fiction classics, astronomers look for evidence that points to collision points between universes.