A group of theoretical physicists led by controversial Oxford University mathematical physicist Roger Penrose has offered new evidence that there may have been older universes that came before our own, by finding the ghosts of black holes that existed in those ancient universes.

Penrose’s view of the cosmos is that our universe wasn’t the first to exist, and it likely won’t be the last, with the death of each iteration giving birth to a new one, such as in the case of the Big Bang being the genesis of our current universe; he calls this theoretical process Conformal Cyclic Cosmology (CCC). There may even be an infinite number of neighboring universes that undergo similar cycles, making up what theoretical physicists call the multiverse: indeed, this was the subject of Professor Stephen Hawking’s final paper, "A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation?", which explored the possibility of new pocket universes springing spontaneously from the effects of entropy on the rates of inflation from such universes.

Penrose’s team contends that the remnants of black holes in a previous universe can leave a mark on the formation of the universe that succeeds it. As an older universe ages, its black holes eventually absorb all of the energy and matter that universe previously held. These black holes themselves also eventually evaporate through Hawking radiation, made up of massless particles such as gravitons and photons. Eventually, all that is left in the dying universe is this massless radiation, and according to the theory of relativity, massless objects do not experience time and space at all, effectively making the universe seem, to the remaining particles, to be infinitely small, like a singularity. And then…

Bang.

Penrose’s team theorized that the uneven effects of the Hawking radiation from such a dying universe should survive in the universe that succeeds it, so they turned to the oldest remnant of the Big Bang that we know of: the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). The CMB is the faint, ever-so-slightly uneven trace of radiation left over from the Big Bang itself, with the microwaves that are reaching us now having traveled for 13.8 billion years. They then looked for patterns in the CMB that matched what they expected theoretical Hawking radiation points to look like, and compared different areas of the sky against one-another to see what most closely matched.

These real-world results were than compared to a series of artificially-generated "fake" CMB maps, made using random data, to see if the patterns from the real data matched it; if they were to have matched, that would indicate that what the team thought were Hawking points were actually random noise that they had been reading too much into. However, this analysis revealed that the odds that these patterns were actually random noise was only 0.1 percent, or one in one-thousand.

The paper doesn’t draw the conclusion that their finding proves that these Hawking points exist, but rather it provides evidence that Penrose’s theory isn’t necessarily wrong.

"There are more galaxies in your universe than there are stars in your galaxy, and more universes in the firmament than there are galaxies in your universe," according to the Master of the Key. "There will come a day when mankind will learn how to detect universes beyond. But most are so far away that their light has not yet reached your universe, since the day of its inception."

You can read Whitley’s account of his encounter with this insightful and enigmatic individual in The Key, available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Audible