OXFORD, England, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- The Big Bang may not have been the beginning of our universe but rather just the latest in a series of cosmic deaths and rebirths, a U.K. scientist says.
Theoretical physicist Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford says circular patterns in the universe's pervasive background radiation suggest the universe was born long before the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago and had undergone repeated cycles of birth and death before that time, ScienceNews.org reported.
The controversial notion by Penrose and Vahe Gurzadyan of Yerevan State University in Armenia goes against the current standard theory of cosmology known as inflation, which says the infant cosmos underwent an enormous growth spurt in its first tiny fraction of a second.
Inflation would erase the circular patterns Penrose and Gurzadyan say they have detected.
Penrose claims the circles provide a look back past the "wall" of the most recent Big Bang into the universe's previous episode.
In a published paper, Penrose and Gurzadyan suggest the circles were generated by collisions between super massive black holes that occurred during this earlier universe, creating uniform and spherical gravity waves that could have entered our current universe.
Other physicists say the idea is intriguing but they aren't convinced.
"The existence of large-scale coherent features in the microwave background of this form would appear to contradict the inflationary model and would be a very distinctive signature of Penrose's model" of a cyclic universe, cosmologist David Spergel of Princeton University says.
But, he says, "The paper does not provide enough detail about the analysis to assess the reality of these circles."