The universe is now believed to be expanding faster than ever. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/ESO
New research has revealed that the universe is expanding up to 9% faster than previously believed.
The findings, which were jointly announced by NASA and the European Space Agency, were calculated by measuring the distance to stars in 19 other galaxies beyond the Milky Way.
The new expansion rate actually conflicts with earlier predictions based on measurements of the radiation left over from the Big Bang and could even put Einstein’s theory of relativity to the test.
"You start at two ends, and you expect to meet in the middle if all of your drawings are right and your measurements are right," said lead study author Adam Riess.
"But now the ends are not quite meeting in the middle and we want to know why."
The new findings put the expansion rate of the universe at around 73.2 kilometres per second per megaparsec ( 3.26 million light years ) - a speed that will see the distances between objects double over the next 9.8 billion years or so.
While it isn't clear exactly what is responsible for this rapid expansion, one possibility is 'dark energy', a mysterious force thought to be pushing everything apart quicker than anticipated.
"We know so little about the dark parts of the universe, it’s important to measure how they push and pull on space over cosmic history," said Lucas Macri of Texas A&M University.
Source: The Guardian | Comments (73)
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