Using the Hubble Telescope, NASA astronomers conducted a new series of measurements targeting the expansion rate of the universe. To their shock, this is much faster than originally calculated. The measures are based on the rate of change from the Big Bang, suggesting undiscovered physics may be at work. This is one of the potential explanations for this phenomenon.
New Measurements of the Expansion Rate of the Universe Require New Physics
The team undertaking this measurement project have already been working for over six years. Using stars to mark distances in space, scientists have been trying to determine the distance between galaxies. In doing so, they could also refine the rate of expansion of the universe.
Called the Hubble constant, finding a more precise version of the ratio between expansion and time could help scientists understand the nature of our universe as a whole, or at least glean some new light on it.
This latest set of results has expanded the range of the research by over 10 times the previous measurements. With them, it was determined that the new ratio for universal expansion was much higher than previously estimated.
First calculated by the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite almost a century ago, the rate the universe is expanding was clocked at 67 kilometers per second per megaparsec (or 3.3 million light years). A potential maximum was set at 69 kilometers per second per megaparsec.
The maximum value was shattered by the new research, with NASA calculating the rate of expansion at 73 kilometers per second per megaparsec. This would indicate that the universe is expanding much faster than previously thought. It is also pointing to something that shouldn’t actually be possible, at least based on our current discoveries and understanding.
With no clear answer as to how this can be true, scientists can only begin speculating. Some theorize it to be dark matter speeding up the process of expansion. Others think that an undiscovered subatomic particle may be to blame.
However, regardless of what is doing it, discovering the reason the universe expands and why it is doing so this quickly will no doubt open the door to all sorts of new discoveries after that.
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