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Astrophysicists observed mysterious behavior in star clusters that could lead to a rewrite of fundamental principles of the theory of gravity and even disprove the existence of dark matter, a press release explains.

The new findings challenge existing preconceptions based on widely-accepted principles from Newton's law of universal gravitation, which explain the large-scale structure and movements of the universe.

It also lends weight to a controversial fringe theory that was able to accurately predict the behavior observed by the group of scientists.

An international team of astrophysicists made the discovery when they were investigating open star clusters. These are a type of star cluster in which thousands of young stars are born in a large cloud of dust and gas. These clusters eventually dissolve, and the newborn stars form into two "tails," one of which is positioned in front of the cluster and the other behind.

“According to Newton's laws of gravity, it's a matter of chance in which of the tails a lost star ends up," said Dr. Jan Pflamm-Altenburg, co-author of the study. “So both tails should contain about the same number of stars. However, in our work we were able to prove for the first time that this is not true: In the clusters we studied, the front tail always contains significantly more stars nearby to the cluster than the rear tail."

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