July 19 (UPI) -- The cosmos' tiniest particles and the distribution of matter across the vast universe occupy opposite ends of the scale spectrum, but they're not unrelated.
In a new study, published this week in the journal Physical Review Letters, astrophysicists argue the nature of the smallest particles are linked with the vastness of the universe.
In fact, researchers argue the cosmos is like one big particle accelerator. The study of the vast distribution of cosmic matter could offer new insights into the nature of quantum mechanical particles.
"Ongoing observations of cosmological microwave background and large scale structures have achieved impressive precision, from which valuable information about primordial density perturbations can be extracted," Yi Wang, a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said in a news release.
The Standard Model of physics describes the behavior of all known particles, but researchers believe the large-scale structures of the universe could reveal modes of particle behavior beyond the Standard Model.
Astronomers first set out to establish a baseline microwave background within the parameters of the Standard Model. Researchers used advanced astrophysical algorithms to measure the distribution of the SM spectrum during cosmic inflation. The research showed the signature of the SM spectrum is highly variable.
"Just like the light spectrum changes when applying strong magnetic field to the lamp, the spectrum of the SM particles turns out to be very different at the time of inflation from it is now due to the inflationary background," said Zhong-Zhi Xianyu, an astrophysicist at Harvard University.
Researchers measured the ways different cosmic inflation models render different SM spectrum signatures.
"Through inflation, the spectrum of elementary particles is encoded in the statistics of the distribution of the contents of the universe, such as the galaxies and cosmic microwave background, that we observe today," said Xingang Chen, a scientist in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "This is the connection between the smallest and largest."
Researchers identified only a small interaction between forces of cosmic inflation and the smallest Standard Model particles, but further analysis could reveal anomalies requiring a new mode of physics.
"If some new particles can mediate stronger interactions between these two sectors, we would expect to observe a stronger signal of new physics," said Wang. "The cosmological collider is an ideal arena for new physics beyond SM."