Berlin, June 20 : A new research has determined that the laws of nature are the same in the distant Universe as they are here on Earth.
The research was conducted by an international team of astronomers, including Christian Henkel from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn.
It shows that one of the most important numbers in physics theory, the proton-electron mass ratio, is almost exactly the same in a galaxy 6 billion light years away as it is in Earth's laboratories - approximately 1836.15.
The astronomers determined this by effectively looking back in time at a distant quasar, labelled B0218+367.
The quasar's light, which took 7.5 billion years to reach us, was partially absorbed by ammonia gas in an intervening galaxy.
Ammonia is an ideal molecule to test our understanding of physics in the distant Universe.
Spectroscopic observations of the ammonia molecule were performed with the Effelsberg 100m radio telescope at 2 cm wavelength.
The wavelengths at which ammonia absorbs radio energy from the quasar are sensitive to this special nuclear physics number, the proton-electron mass ratio.
"By comparing the ammonia absorption with that of other molecules, we were able to determine the value of the proton-electron mass ratio in this galaxy, and confirm that it is the same as it is on Earth," said Christian Henkel from MPIfR, an expert for molecular spectroscopy and co-author of the study.
According to Michael Murphy, Swinburne astrophysicist and lead author of the study, it is an important finding, as many scientists debate whether the laws of nature may change at different times and in different places in the Universe.
"We have been able to show that the laws of physics are the same in this galaxy half way across the visible Universe as they are here on Earth," he said.
By continuing their research into the forces of nature, the astronomers also hope to find a window into the extra dimensions of space that many theoretical physicists think may exist.