Science

Hubble measurements confirmed the universe is expanding faster

Hubble measurements confirmed the universe is expanding faster”

The inset image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, reveals one of many star clusters scattered throughout the dwarf galaxy. In research released on Friday, April 26, 2019, Nobel winning astronomer Adam Riess calculates the cosmos is between 12.5 and 13.0 billion years old - about 1 billion years younger than previous estimates.

The universe is expanding far faster than we thought - and scientists are struggling to keep up.

And that's sending a shudder through the world of physics, making astronomers re-think some of their most basic concepts. This is used to determine distances within the universe and calculate the Hubble constant, a value of how fast the cosmos expands over time.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of global cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency.

Nowadays, astronomers" calculations of the Hubble's Constant rely on something called "standard candles' - stellar objects that give a certain, known amount of light - also called Cepheid variable stars. 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.

A ground-based telescope's view of the Large Magellanic Cloud. We are measuring something fundamentally different.

"This mismatch has been growing and has now reached a point that is really impossible to dismiss as a fluke". A study released past year based on Cepheid variable star data suggested that the rate of expansion is 73.5 kilometers (45.6 miles) per second per megaparsec. Meanwhile, we have the very precise measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background - the afterglow of the Big Bang - from the Planck mission, which has measured the Hubble Constant to be about 74,350 kilometers (46,200 miles) per hour per million light-years or 67.4 km/s/Mpc.

The new study used the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to observe 70 pulsating stars called Cepheid variables in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Using measurements from the cosmic microwave background which is the afterglow of the big bang scientists had estimated the Hubble Constant should be 67.4 kilometers (41.9 miles) per second per megaparsec, with less than 1 percent uncertainty.

They used a new method to capture quick images of these stars. 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.

The latest Hubble data lower the possibility that the discrepancy is only a fluke to 1 in 100,000. This avoids the more time-consuming step of anchoring the telescope with guide stars to observe each star.

The team combined their Hubble measurements with another set of observations, made by the Araucaria Project, a collaboration between astronomers from institutions in Chile, the US, and Europe.

"Previously, theorists would say to me, "It can't be".

Various scenarios have been proposed to explain the discrepancy, but there is yet to be a conclusive answer. It's unclear what's driving this surprising acceleration, but many astronomers invoke a mysterious, repulsive force called dark energy.

However, there are other options such as that the universe's dark matter is interacting more strongly with normal matter than astronomers have accounted for.

The team's results have been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

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



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