Friday, December 19, 2008

"Axis of Evil"

Does the Universe Have a Handedness?
In this article I extend an earlier study of spiral galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) to investigate whether the universe has an overall handedness. A preference for spiral galaxies in one sector of the sky to be left-handed or right-handed spirals would indicate a parity-violating asymmetry in the overall universe and a preferred axis. The previous study used 2616 spiral galaxies with redshifts <0.04 and identified handedness. The new study uses 15872 with redshifts <0.085 and obtains very similar results to the first with a signal exceeding 5 sigma, corresponding to a probability of 2.5x10-7 for occurring by chance. The axis of the dipole asymmetry lies at approx. (l, b) =(32d,69d), roughly along that of our Galaxy and close to the so-called "Axis of Evil".