The galaxy is many things. It is very large. It is very confusing.
And it may also be an enormous, confusing but maybe navigable wormhole.
A new theory has proposed that the entire galaxy is a tunnel through space and time, into which explorers could potentially travel to other distant parts of the universe.
The theory is published in the Annals of Physics journal with the help of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Italy.
The giant wormhole theory is remarkably similar to the plot device in the film Interstellar which enabled Matthew McConnaghy et al to travel to other worlds. Known as Einstein-Rosen bridges, these theoretical features of the cosmos would link different sectors of space by making use of currently inexplicable aspects of physics - like the fact that 90% of all matter is totally invisible.
"If we combine the map of the dark matter in the Milky Way with the most recent Big Bang model to explain the universe and we hypothesise the existence of space-time tunnels, what we get is that our galaxy could really contain one of these tunnels, and that the tunnel could even be the size of the galaxy itself," Paolo Salucci, astrophysicist at SISSA and an author of the paper, told Phys.org.
"We could even travel through this tunnel, since, based on our calculations, it could be navigable. Just like the one we've all seen in the recent film 'Interstellar."
"Obviously we're not claiming that our galaxy is definitely a wormhole, but simply that, according to theoretical models, this hypothesis is a possibility."
It is even possible that the theory could be tested, Salucci says, by comparing two galaxies with new (and as-yet uninvented) methodologies.
"Dark matter may be 'another dimension', perhaps even a major galactic transport system. In any case, we really need to start asking ourselves what it is," he said.