The Universe Is Expanding Much Faster Than We Thought

The Universe Is Expanding Much Faster Than We Thought

As the team's measurements have become more precise, their calculation of the Hubble constant has remained at odds with the expected value derived from observations of the early universe's expansion by the European Space Agency's Planck satellite based on conditions Planck observed 380,000 years after the Big Bang.

The universe is expanding faster than expected, suggesting that astronomers may have to incorporate some new physics into their theories of how the cosmos works, a new study reports.

The Hubble Constant is a measure of how fast a galaxy is moving compared to how far away it is.

They found the space galaxies are shifting away from each other faster than previous estimates.

Although the astronomers don't have an answer to this perplexing disparity, they intend to continue using Hubble to reduce the uncertainty in their measure of the Hubble constant, which they hope to decrease to 1%. It's thanks to more precise measurements of Hubble's constant over the years that actually led to the inadvertent discovery of dark energy, a mysterious type of energy which we can not directly detect but which physicists are confident makes up at least 70% of the energy of the universe.

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The researchers relied on the same tool that astronomer Edwin Hubble used to show that the universe was expanding back in 1929: a class of pulsing stars called cepheids.

This image shows the entire Large Magellanic Cloud, with some of the brightest objects marked. Credit: NASA, ESA, Adam Riess, and Palomar Digitized Sky Survey. Riess and his team analyzed light from 70 stars in our neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, using a new method that allowed for the capture of quick images of the stars. In 2016, NASA said the universe is expanding between 6 and 9 percent faster than expected. According to the astronomers, the chance that these results are somewhat mistaken is about one in 100,000. The Hubble Constant is a value of how fast the cosmos expands over time.

"This mismatch has been growing and has now reached a point that is really impossible to dismiss as a fluke", Riess said in a statement. Riess says it's not just two experiments disagreeing noting that the two projects are measuring something fundamentally different. This means that for every 3.3 million light-years farther away a galaxy is from us, it appears to be moving 46 miles per second faster, as a result of the expansion of the Universe. "The other is a prediction based on the physics of the early universe and on measurements of how fast it ought to be expanding", he added. "If these values don't agree, there becomes a very strong likelihood that we're missing something in the cosmological model that connects the two eras".

Earlier observations of that increased speed still had a 1 in 3,000 chance that astronomers were wrong, which is considered pretty high for an astrophysics result. An alternative explanation might be that dark matter interacts more strongly with ordinary matter than previously thought. But even more exciting is the proposition that we don't know what is causing the expansion because our current understanding of physics is too limited.

The "mismatch" in data has been highlighted by Mr Reiss who wrote to The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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