When the Universe came into being, it was a kind of hot soup of elementary particles—and now scientists believe it could have been rumbling with thunder caused by Higgs boson bubbles.
This video, created by researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland, shows a visualization of how the early Universe could have formed. New Scientist explains what's happening:
According to the standard model, this Higgs field switched on everywhere 100 picoseconds after the big bang. But in theories that go beyond the standard model, the transition would have happened more like water beginning to boil. Bubbles of the Higgs field would have grown in the hot dense matter that existed just after the big bang. When a bubble swept over an area, the particles in it suddenly gained the property of mass. And when the walls of Higgs bubbles met, they would have triggered ripples in the fabric of space-time called gravitational waves.
Those bubbles, it seems, would have dumped huge quantities of energy into their surroundings, creating massive shockwaves—sonic booms that would have created a low rumble, rippling through the early Universe like thunder. The coolest part? The scientists reckon we might still be able to hear echoes of them—and that's the next job on the list. [Physical Review Letters via New Scientist]