A new study, published on November 4 in the journal Nature Astronomy says that contrary to popular belief, instead of being flat, the universe maybe curved, like a massive inflated balloon.
The study goes on to add that if one moves in a straight line in space, they will loop around and end up right back to where they started.
According to Cosmologists, the concept is called "closed universe" and has been there for quite some time. However, it does not fit with existing theories of how the universe works, and thus has been rejected for the more favourable, flat universe concept.
In their paper, the researchers also noted that the 2018 Plant Legacy release confirmed the presence of "gravitational lensing" in cosmic microwave background (CMB), which suggets its microwaves bend.
According to study authors University of Manchester cosmologist Eleonora Di Valentino, Sapienza University of Rome cosmologist Alessandro Melchiorri and Johns Hopkins University cosmologist Joseph Silk, an anomaly in data from the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the faint echo of the Big Bang, points towards evidence that the universe is not flat, but rather closed after all.
Speaking to Live Science, study author Melchiorri said that the difference between a closed and an open universe is a bit like the difference between a stretched flatsheet and an inflated balloon.
According to him, in either case, the whole universe is expanding making every point move away from each other in a straight line. However, unlike a flat universe, if it is like an inflated balloon, according to Melchiorri, the probable photons, as they travel in parallel in a closed universe, will eventually meet.
There is an anomaly in the CMB, which is the oldest thing one sees in the universe, the study further reported.
As per the latest data, there is significantly more "gravitational lensing" of the CMB than earlier expected. This means that gravity seems to bend the microwaves of the CMB more than existing physics can explain.
Speaking to Live Science, Mechiorri explained, "I don't want to say that I believe in a closed universe,” adding, "I'm a little bit more neutral. I'd say, let's wait on the data and what the new data will say."