A vast network of invisible energy structures have been discovered in the solar system — a celestial superhighway that future space probes might use to explore far-away corners of solar space.
These hidden energy structures, called manifolds, emerge in space-time due to the gravitational interaction of massive objects like the planets, said Nataša Todorović, a mathematician at the Serbian Belgrade Astronomical Observatory and lead author of a paper on the discovery. While astronomers have long known about such pathways, and even used them to navigate our celestial neighborhood, the new study has revealed a new shape in these manifolds: “arches of chaos” that form an unseen “ornamental structure” that evolves over decades. And this discovery could help explain the mysterious behavior of comets and other small objects that dance erratically in and out of this part of the universe.
Manifolds are essentially cosmic express lanes that emerge from the complicated gravitational attraction between celestial objects. “Gravitational [manifolds] are simply a catalog of some unusual looking ‘free fall’ paths through the solar system,” meaning paths where an object seems to fall, like Newton’s apple, on a path dictated by the gravity of a large object, said Shane Ross, a Virginia Tech University aerospace engineer who pioneered the study of these structures.