Our model of the universe has been falsified

The cosmological standard model is wrong

New data from the Dark Energy Survey and South Pole Telescope suggest that the universe is less ‘clumpy’ than the standard cosmological model predicts. This has triggered speculation about new forces and insights into the nature of dark matter and dark energy. But this entire project is deeply misguided. We already have robust observations contradicting the standard cosmological model, showing that the universe is in fact more, not less, ‘clumpy’ than we thought. It’s about time the cosmology community faced these results, argue Pavel Kroupa and Moritz Haslbauer.


A recent publication in the journal Physical Review D with about 156 co-authors suggests the distribution of matter to be smoother than expected, based on the predictions of the standard model of cosmology [1]. This new data release by the Dark Energy Survey, was based on the findings of a telescope in Chile that measured the tiny distortions of the images of relatively nearby galaxies, caused by their light being diverted due to the gravitational pull of foreground matter. The team also employed observations from the South Pole Telescope to measure distortions of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), again due to the uneven distribution of foreground matter. The CMB suggests that matter was nearly evenly distributed in the universe, about 400,000 years after the Big Bang. As time progressed and the universe aged and expanded, matter began to clump together under the influence of gravity. But the clumping observed by the South Pole Telescope also did not accord with the predictions of the standard cosmological model.

The cosmology community is already speculating on the back of these results, even though they are not statistically significant, imagining new forces and theories about the nature of dark matter and dark energy. But these new findings, while calling for tweaks in the standard cosmological model, fly in the face of a series of more robust observations that suggest that the standard cosmological model is not fit for purpose. Dark matter and dark energy are speculative, and a range of recent observations, including by the James Webb Telescope, are increasingly showing to anyone willing to see that the universe doesn’t look or behave the way the standard cosmological model predicts. It’s about time the cosmology community gave up on this theory rather than digging itself into a deeper hole filled with speculation and fantasy.

The standard model of cosmology assumes Einsteinian gravitation to be valid everywhere in the universe, and in order to match observational data, it has to postulate the existence of dark matter, amounting to 5 times the amount of normal matter, as well as dark energy, which supposedly comprises some 75 per cent of all of the energy content in the universe. The standard cosmological model also assumes the cosmological principle, according to which the universe looks the same in every direction. Using these assumptions, scientists can calculate how the initial smoothness of the cosmic microwave background evolved into an increasingly clumpy and moving distribution of matter, made of filaments, galaxy clusters and galaxies. The measurement of this process allows astronomers to test if the model is correct.


Observations tell us that the Universe is structured on every scale, amounting to a falsification of the standard model of cosmology with extreme statistical confidence


The recent observations and analysis of the Dark Energy Survey and South Pole Telescope data are incredibly complicated. The analysis needs to make assumptions on the statistical shape and orientation of galaxies in order to extract the evidence for extremely weak image distortions through gravitational lensing from fore-ground galaxies which requires a description of their distribution. Finding evidence for and measuring the distortions of the peaks in the CMB caused by gravitational lensing from the foreground matter distribution essentially involves the calculation of the lensing of a random field by a random field. For this, the not-distorted CMB fluctuation pattern needs to be known. And this requires a model of the CMB that is otherwise not testable. The results by the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and South Pole Telescope (SPT) collaborations, that the measured distribution of matter is smoother than expected from the standard model, is a problem, not just for the standard model itself, but also for the research projects and collaborations that rely on it.

To begin with, we need to be careful to not over-interpret the results published by the DES and SPT collaborations in terms of possible physics. The indication of too much smoothness is not yet statistically significant enough at present to warrant a  discussion about the need for a new physics.

What we do know about the smoothness, or the lack thereof, of the matter distribution in the universe, from more direct measurements, is that it’s much clumpier and faster-moving in parts than the standard cosmological model allows. In fact, the observations tell us that the Universe is structured on every scale, amounting to a falsification of the standard model of cosmology with extreme (more than 5 sigma) statistical confidence. A serious physicist would never again touch a theory that has been ruled out at such a significance level. 

All this was already covered in a previous article for the IAI [2]. A recent publication [3] finds that the motion of the Local Group towards the CMB seems to have a different velocity and direction to the same motion relative to very distant quasars and active galactic nuclei that should, however, yield a very comparable reference frame to that provided by the CMB. This indicates Gpc-scale matter flows and inhomogeneities. Similarly, but independently, the analysis of 570 galaxy clusters shows a strong indication for a bulk motion of matter over scales of hundreds of Mpc with a velocity of nearly 1000 km/s [4]. These are numbers that are entirely impossible in the comparatively smooth standard model.  Another interesting recent observation by us is that the southern hemisphere has more early-type galaxies (i.e., rounder galaxies with less star formation) than the northern hemisphere which has more star forming, disk-like galaxies [5]. This result is statistically extremely significant. Although we speculated that this may be due to some yet unknown bias in the galaxy catalogues, we also note that the overabundance of early-type galaxies in the southern hemisphere approximately correlates with the CMB having more power and a higher temperature in the southern hemisphere [6, 7, 8]. At face value, this seems to suggest that the one side of the Universe had more power, was warmer and resulted in a different population of galaxies than the other side, violating the cosmological principle.


Given the above well-documented and published evidence, indicating significant matter lumpiness on all scales and at all times, why does the cosmological community appear to largely ignore it?


This all sounds crazy from the viewpoint of the dominant theory, the standard cosmological model. But the data, including the recent observations by the James Webb Space Telescope, indicate that the very early Universe was a lot clumpier than the standard model allows. Massive galaxies have been observed already formed merely a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, a lot earlier than previously thought possible [9]. The data thus robustly falsify the cosmological principle. While the same laws of physics may apply in every corner of the universe, the universe itself it is not the same everywhere.

Given the above well-documented and published evidence, indicating significant matter lumpiness on all scales and at all times, why does the cosmological community appear to largely ignore it? More specifically, and problematically, for the case in hand, why do the Dark Energy Survey and South Pole Telescope collaborations not take the documented inhomogeneities into account? Or worse, why does their analysis yield an observed universe that is, if anything, even smoother than the standard model predicts, and is thus in total contradiction with the real observed Universe which is significantly clumpier than the supposedly real universe that the Dark Energy Survey and South Pole Telescope collaborations are claiming to be measuring? Does this indicate some serious problem, some total failure of weak lensing analysis?

Driven by the unexpected smoother-than-the-smooth standard model results, the scientific establishment is already fired up with speculations about non-standard physics of "standard" dark matter and dark energy. It seems as if most of the cosmological community is just waiting to jump on any indication for additional dark physics in the dark sector, knowing full-well that any speculation might produce many papers (they say, after all, "publish or perish") that have a content that can practically never be checked to be of any physical relevance, by the dark nature of dark physics in the dark sector. Maybe this is where the modern theoretical physicist, being perhaps arrogant through mathematical prowess, fails the basic mission that must be the advancement of understanding nature rather than contriving increasingly complicated mathematical theories? Sabine Hossenfelder [10] has already eloquently touched on this issue. Thus, rather than discarding the standard cosmological model, our scientific establishment is digging itself ever deeper into the speculative fantasy realm, losing sight of and also grasp of reality in what appears to be a maelstrom of insanity.


[1] "Joint analysis of DES Year 3 data and CMB lensing from SPT and Planck III: Combined cosmological constraints", DES and SPT collaboration:

T. M. C. Abbott et al. (DES and SPT Collaborations)

Phys. Rev. D 107, 023531


[2] "Dark Matter Doesn't Exist", Kroupa, P., iai, 12th July 2022


[3] "A Challenge to the Standard Cosmological Model", Secrest, N. J., et al. 2022, ApJ 937, 31


[4] "Cosmological implications of the anisotropy of ten galaxy cluster scaling relations", Migkas, K., et al. 2021, A&A 649, 151


[5] "Anisotropy in the all-sky distribution of galaxy morphological types", Javanmardi, B., Kroupa, P.  2017, A&A 597, 120


[6] "Asymmetries in the Cosmic Microwave Background Anisotropy Field", Eriksen, H. K., et al. 2004, ApJ 650, 14


[7] "Hemispheric asymmetry and cold spot in the Cosmic Microwave Background", Planck 2013


[8] "CMB anomalies after Planck", Schwarz, D., et al. 2016, CQGra 33, 4001


[9] "Has JWST Already Falsified Dark-matter-driven Galaxy Formation?", Haslbauer, M., etal. 2022, ApJ 939, 31


[10] "Lost in Math : How Beauty Leads Physics Astray", Hossenfelder, S., 2018. New York: Basic Books. OCLC: 1005547825. ISBN: 9780465094257.


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Tom jacob 13 March 2024

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Tom jacob 13 March 2024

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