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Space & Astronomy

The universe is expanding faster than thought

By T.K. Randall
June 3, 2016 · Comment icon 73 comments

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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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #64 Posted by Habitat 8 years ago
If time is an illusion, then must not distance be, too ?
Comment icon #65 Posted by lightly 8 years ago
 i dunno Habitat,   but this guy thinks we may be wrong about the expansion of the Universe accelerating.     Now, a new theory suggests that the accelerating expansion of the universe is merely an illusion, akin to a mirage in the desert. The false impression results from the way our particular region of the cosmos is drifting through the rest of space, said Christos Tsagas, a cosmologist at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. Our relative motion makes it look like the universe as a whole is... [More]
Comment icon #66 Posted by Opus Magnus 8 years ago
The thought of the Big Freeze is really depressing to realize.  Although as it seems with most things in reality, which seems to have a horrible nature, there seems to be a fail safe of peace where we can breathe a sigh of relief and know we're saved from trouble.  I guess in this one the sigh of relief is death, that we can think about it, but don't actually have to go through it.  Everything will eventually die, and escape the dark reality.  I think this is God's grace and mercy.   I guess distance is relative, in one part to size.  If something is really big it moves great distances i... [More]
Comment icon #67 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 8 years ago
I don't think you will find many astronomers today who thinks that the universe is infinite. So far all indications are that the universe have finite mass and energy.
Comment icon #68 Posted by lightly 8 years ago
             ah,   thanks Not.   I know my ignorance has been showing,  I wish more knowledgeable types , like yourself, would chime in with little gems of information , but,  i shouldn't expect any one to explain it all to me in a short post or two.     thanks again.
Comment icon #69 Posted by StarMountainKid 8 years ago
My poor perspective: I would think even though the universe has finite mass and energy, space itself that contains this finite mass and energy is expanding. Even though the universe has had only 13.8 billion years to expand, the farther away we look, the faster this expansion appears. At some great distance from us, galaxies are receding from us much faster than the speed of light. So, though the universe has had only finite time to expand, the farthest galaxies from us have traveled farther than the finite age of the universe would indicate. The distance to the edge of the observable universe... [More]
Comment icon #70 Posted by Opus Magnus 8 years ago
I think infinity makes theoretical sense, as in expanding outwards forever, because there simply isn't anything in existence.  I guess that makes more sense with the parable 'everything is nothing'.   Though, I find these ideas of infinity really depressing and actually causes pain to my soul.  I've found on repeated occasions, when I have this feeling, that it is because the idea is in error, not true, sand my mind doesn't like the idea of believing an error.  I think it may be because reality is in many more dimensions than 4 (width, depth, length and time).  With the extra dimensions, ... [More]
Comment icon #71 Posted by jethrofloyd 8 years ago
Debate accelerates on universe’s expansion speed’s-expansion-speed A puzzling mismatch is plaguing two methods for measuring how fast the universe is expanding. When the discrepancy arose a few years ago, scientists suspected it would fade away, a symptom of measurement errors. But the latest, more precise measurements of the expansion rate — a number known as the Hubble constant — have only deepened the mystery.  
Comment icon #72 Posted by Sir Smoke aLot 8 years ago
Observable universe is not all that there is and it ( observable universe ) could be only a tiny piece of the Universe. On larger scale - supposed expansion could simply be motion that we perceive as 'post Big Bang' effects.   The Ant ain't aware of the mountain - it perceive large stone as one.    
Comment icon #73 Posted by Susanc241 8 years ago
I know I am very late coming to this, but if we as a species had taken a billion or two more years to get to the stage of evolution we are at today, then the supposed 'big bang' would have occurred , in round figures 15 or 16 billion years ago.  Or conversely if we had got where we are today a billion years ago then it would be 13 billion.  It's all from our perspective.  I see nothing weird in the time scale.

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