Something massive and mysterious is lurking in our home galaxy’s bulge. Or is it one of the estimated 100-billion objects known as brown dwarfs roaming the Milky Way? In 2017, astronomers used the light-warping effects of gravity to spot a massive object OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb using NASA’s infrared Spitzer Space Telescope, 13 times the mass of Jupiter and orbits a star about 22,000 light years away. This discovery of an absolutely massive planet residing in our galaxy’s “bulge” (image above) has scientists struggling to explain if it’s a huge unknown planet or a failed star.
Supermassive black holes have been described by astronomers as the “Gates of Hell” and “one-way doors out of the universe.” Now, the existence of primordial black holes, gravity wells formed just moments after the Big Bang that some scientists have suggested could be an explanation for dark matter, can be tested by scientists using gravitational waves.
What if gravity is an illusion, a cosmic side effect of something else going on at deeper levels of reality? The classical theory of gravity is in dire need of new approaches, since it doesn’t combine well with quantum physics. Both theories, crown jewels of 20th century physics, cannot be true at the same time. A Dutch theoretical physicist and string theorist, Erik Verlinde, proposes a starkly different theory – the theory of emergent gravity. “For me gravity doesn’t exist,” he says. “We might be standing on the brink of a new scientific revolution that will radically change our views on the very nature of space, time and gravity.”