Strange Science: Super-Chilled Helium and Universe Formation

Tube containing ultrapure helium, which glows a purple-pink colorResearchers at Aalto University’s Low Temperature Laboratory have documented “walls bound by strings” in superfluid helium-3. Because helium remains a liquid even at absolute zero, and because it becomes a superfluid at other low temperatures, it has the potential to flow forever with zero viscosity. This allows the researchers to form “half-quantum vortices—whirlpools in the superfluid where the amount of helium flowing is strictly controlled by the rules of quantum physics.”

By studying super-chilled helium, these researchers have found evidence for what cosmology theorists suggest happened in the wake of the Big Bang–symmetry-breaking phase transitions that effectively “froze” some fluctuations in place while the universe expanded. These “frozen” fluctuations then became galaxies. So their studies allow more insight into how the universe formed and why.

You can read more about this here! (Special thanks to MSJ alum K. Kitts for bringing this article to our attention!)

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