Universe is EXPANDING FASTER than expected - NASA reveals

James Marshall
April 27, 2019

Readers might remember the team from Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute, led by Nobel Laureate Adam Riess, came up with the difference a year ago as the gang worked to refine the Hubble Constant (how fast the universe expands with time) following results from the European Space Agency's (ESA) Planck observatory.

This is a ground-based telescope's view of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. The unexpected results suggest that the rate of expansion is faster than the prediction based on the physics of the early universe.

In the paper, the team looked at the light from stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of our neighboring galaxies.

The Universe's rate of expansion is called the Hubble Constant, and it's been incredibly tricky to pin down. Even though the team's measurements have become more accurate, their calculation of the Hubble constant hasn't matched up with the expected value derived from early universe expansion observations by the European Space Agency's (ESA) Planck satellite based on conditions Planck observed 380,000 years after the Big Bang occurred.

"This is not what we expected", lead author Adam Riess, a Johns Hopkins University Nobel laureate and astrophysicist, said in a statement. They used a newly developed technique that allowed them to observe more stars in a shorter period of time. Astronomers like Edwin Hubble first noticed that every distant galaxy they could measure seemed to be moving away from Earth - and the farther they were, the faster they receded.

Astronomers guess that the increase in the speed is due largely to an increase in the density of dark energy.

This research also suggests that the likelihood that this discrepancy between measurements of today's expansion rate of the Universe and the expected value based on the early Universe's expansion is a fluke is just 1 in 100,000, a significant improvement from a previous estimate past year of 1 in 3,000. "It's going to break everything.' Now they are saying, 'we actually could do this, '" Riess said.

The Hubble Space Telescope has taken new measurements that have confirmed that the Universe is expanding about 9% faster than expected based on the trajectory seen shortly after the big bang. 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. "We are measuring something fundamentally different", Riess said.

The stars are known as Cepheid variables and brighten and dim at predictable rates that are used to measure intergalactic distances. The new data is a measurement of how fast things are expanding today (in cosmological terms). An invisible form of matter called dark matter may interact more strongly with normal matter than astronomers previously thought. The fact the two values differ indicates that something is missing in the current model. This precise result aid team in tightening the bolts of the rest of the distance ladder that uses exploding stars called supernovae to extend deeper into space.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of global cooperation between ESA and NASA.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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