“If space is truly infinite,” observes Dan Hooper, head of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, in At the Edge of Time, “the implications are staggering. Within an infinite expanse of space, it would be hard to see any reason why there would not be an infinite number of galaxies, stars, and planets, and even an infinite number of intelligent or conscious beings, scattered throughout this limitless volume. That is the thing about infinity: it takes things that are otherwise very unlikely and makes them all inevitable.”
Perhaps, Including an Infinity of Big Bangs
Foreshadowing Hooper, University of Oxford mathematician and physicist, Sir Roger Penrose, who won the 2020 Nobel Prize for physics has argued that extinct universes exist that were filled with ghost black holes that are hidden, embedded in the Cosmic Microwave Background map, and may have harbored alien civilizations from an eon that preceded the Big Bang, when our universe began to rapidly expand and will continue to expand until all of its matter eventually decays. This process restores uniformity and sets the stage for the next Big Bang and a new one universe will be born. The proof of his idea are what Penrose calls Hawking Points: the corpses of black holes from before the Big Bang that outlived their own universes but are now at the end of their lifespans, leaking radiation as they fade into nothing.
Dan Hooper alludes to Einstein’s observation that the human scientific imagination is “a preview of coming attractions” with his description of Penrose’s daredevil speculative side conjecturing that any civilization we may discover by definition will be millions to billions of years older than Earth, perhaps existing encoded in photons.
Penrose’s “Hawking Points”
“So our Big Bang began with something which was the remote future of a previous aeon and there would have been similar black holes evaporating away, via Hawking evaporation, and they would produce these points in the sky, that I call Hawking Points.”” Penrose added about his hypothesis he coined “conformal cyclic cosmology“(CCC).
In 2018, reports Physics World, Penrose released new evidence in support of CCC: “Rather than rings of near uniform temperature, he has instead identified patches within the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) that are much hotter than the surrounding region. The idea is that these hot spots could be due to the (mainly electromagnetic) radiation given off during the Hawking evaporation of supermassive black holes in the previous aeon.
“Penrose says that although originally very feeble, those emissions would have been concentrated in our own aeon into spots with huge amounts of energy that he and his colleagues call Hawking points. That concentration comes about, he explains, because “the universe loses track of how big it is at the transition between aeons. The Hawking points would then have stretched during the early universe, forming circular patches with a diameter on the sky about five times that of the Moon.”
About the CMB, says physicist David Tong at Cambridge University in Quantum Fields: “We know in particular that for the first 380,000 years of the universe it was filled with a fireball. And we know this for sure because we’ve seen the fireball. In fact we’ve seen it , and we’ve taken a photograph of it. This is called the cosmic microwave background radiation, but a much better name for it is the “Fireball That Filled the Universe When It Was Much Younger.”
In this 2020 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society paper the authors found that images of the CMB background radiation show evidence of black hole evaporation from a previous universe in accordance with Penrose’s theory. They scoured CMB data from the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite for hot spots of various sizes and analyzed how quickly the microwave temperature drops off around them compared to spots in 1000 simulated maps of the CMB. They found that in and around small spots, not a single simulated map had higher temperature gradients than the real cosmos – with the temperature variations in the latter case being about an order of magnitude higher than the CMB average.
Black Holes Will Start to Glow in the Night Sky
As described by the Penrose Institute, our universe is expanding and as it cools over the next googol (10100) years the black holes will start to glow in the night sky.” Although this ‘glow’ is extremely faint – a temperature much less than one ten millionth of a degree above absolute zero – it will last for perhaps a googol years, and when viewed from the next aeon these glowing black holes – Hawking Points – will be amongst the largest continuous energy sources in the CMB night sky. The reason we do not see these points without computer analysis is they are very faint and the early universe has scattered them over a large area. What once was a point is now a disk around five times the diameter of our moon.
“Careful analysis of the night sky has found around 30 of these points in the cosmic microwave background map.” the Institute reports. “Five of these points coincide with previously discovered concentric circles in the CMB sky. Interestingly one of the points coincides with the observation window of the BICEP 2 observatory opening up the ability to examine coincidences with the magnetic field patterns which CCC would also predict at Hawking Points.
A Universe Devoid of Black Holes
“All black holes disintegrate theoretically leaving a universe of gravitons and photons that don’t experience space and time as we know it because they have no mass and travel at the speed of light. Penrose describes a universe devoid of black holes that will mirror the extreme compression of our universe when the Big Bang exploded. There are no such things as distance or time in that moment, but there is something even this violent outburst can’t obliterate.”
What Penrose and his colleagues inferred from the CMB data were not actual remnants of the black holes that supposedly vanished billions and billions of years ago, but evidence of their existence and that universe’s past life, reports Physics World. Eons of wasting away from Hawking radiation leave a mark in cosmic radiation background frequencies. Whatever left it behind has long since decayed, but its actual existence can be detected.
“Roger Penrose has always been willing — if not happy — to hold views that lie well outside of the scientific mainstream,” commented Dan Hooper, in an email to The Daily Galaxy. “He did this in the 19060s when he — correctly — argued that massive stars would ultimately become black holes. More recently, he has expressed skepticism about the conventional view that our very early universe went through an era of cosmic inflation, during which space expanded exponentially. Instead, he speculates that the Big Bang may not have been the beginning of our universe at all.”
Other physicists, however, remain skeptical that the microwave background really does contain signs from a previous “aeon”. Standard cosmology suggests that the universe underwent a very brief but exceptionally intense expansion just after the Big Bang. This period of “inflation” would have ironed out any irregularities in the structure of the early universe, leading to the very uniform cosmos that we observe around us.
Douglas Scott, at the University of British Columbia, reports Physics World, says: “Obviously, if someone could show that some specific pattern on the microwave sky was a proof that the universe underwent a series of cycles then that would be spectacularly exciting, “But this paper falls very short of doing that.
Editor, Jackie Faherty, astrophysicist, Senior Scientist with AMNH. Jackie was formerly a NASA Hubble Fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Aside from a love of scientific research, she is a passionate educator and can often be found giving public lectures in the Hayden Planetarium. Her research team has won multiple grants from NASA, NSF, and the Heising Simons foundation to support projects focused on characterising planet-like objects. She has also co-founded the popular citizen science project entitled Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 which invites the general public to help scan the solar neighbourhood for previously missed cold worlds. A Google Scholar, Faherty has over 100 peer reviewed articles in astrophysical journals and has been an invited speaker at universities and conferences across the globe. Jackie received the 2020 Vera Rubin Early Career Prize from the American Astronomical Society, an award that recognises scientists who have made an impact in the field of dynamical astronomy and the 2021 Robert H Goddard Award for science accomplishments.