One of our most basic assumptions about the universe may be wrong

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An illustration of a quasar, which reside at the centre of some galaxies

ESO/M. Kornmesser via Alamy

A fundamental tenet of the modern model of cosmology is coming into question. A survey of more than 1 million galaxies across the cosmos has shown that the distribution of matter may not be the same in every direction, which could upend much of what we understand about the universe.

The cosmological principle posits that, viewed on large enough scales, the distribution of matter should be smooth and regular in every direction. This assumption is used in many cosmological calculations, most notably in …

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