Isaac Newton formulated his theory of gravity as an action at a distance: a planet instantly feels the influence of another celestial body, no matter the distance between them. This characteristic motivated Einstein to develop the famous theory of general relativity, where gravity becomes a local deformation of spacetime. The principle of locality states that an object is directly influenced only by its surrounding environment: distant objects cannot communicate instantaneously, only what is here right now matters. However, in the past century, with the birth and development of quantum mechanics, physicists discovered that non-local phenomena not only exist but are fundamental to understanding the nature of reality. Now, a new study from SISSA – Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, recently published in The Astrophysical Journal, suggests that dark matter, one of the most mysterious components of the Universe, interacts with gravity in a non-local way. According to the authors, PhD students Francesco Benetti and Giovanni Gandolfi, along with their supervisor Andrea Lapi, this discovery could provide a fresh perspective on the still unclear nature of dark matter.
Image: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Jenny Hottle