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Mystery surrounds universe's rate of expansion


Posted on Sunday, 5 August, 2018 | Comment icon 34 comments

The expansion rate of the universe does not appear to be consistent. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/ESO
Scientists have discovered discrepancies in our understanding of how fast the universe is expanding.
The mystery concerns the fact that new measurements from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gaia space telescope indicate that the rate of expansion nearby is 73.5 kilometers per second per megaparsec - a figure that contradicts earlier measurements of the rate of expansion in the distant universe which appears to be only 67 kilometers per second per megaparsec.

Even stranger is the fact that these two figures seem to be getting further apart, rather than closer together, the more scientists refine their calculations.

"At this point, clearly it's not simply some gross error in any one measurement," said study lead author Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore.

"It's as though you predicted how tall a child would become from a growth chart, and then found the adult he or she became greatly exceeded the prediction. We are very perplexed."

The mystery adds to the already substantial list of questions scientists have about the expansion of the universe. Why is it expanding ? Why is the expansion accelerating ? What is it expanding in to ?

Some believe that the key lies in dark matter and dark energy - two invisible yet highly influential forms of matter and energy that we cannot directly detect.

Others, meanwhile, suggest that a type of undiscovered subatomic particle may be to blame.

The search for answers continues.

Source: Space.com | Comments (34)

Tags: Universe, Expansion

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #25 Posted by RoofGardener on 6 August, 2018, 11:16
Could be ! But then.. you'd have to re-write Special Relativity ? 
Comment icon #26 Posted by Ell on 6 August, 2018, 11:45
The universe does not expand.
Comment icon #27 Posted by StarMountainKid on 6 August, 2018, 16:44
What is space?
Comment icon #28 Posted by paperdyer on 6 August, 2018, 19:26
Maybe the universe has been eating too much dark matter and just needs to go on a diet. 
Comment icon #29 Posted by qxcontinuum on 7 August, 2018, 2:13
The universe does not expand anywhere. Our spiral galaxy rotates creating the illusion of rotation. Scientific speculations are wrong
Comment icon #30 Posted by hunterjuly29 on 8 August, 2018, 4:17
When things continue to expand and expand, what eventually happens? Do they fade away? You tell me. I like the part about "scientists are perplexed". Aren't they always?
Comment icon #31 Posted by StarMountainKid on 8 August, 2018, 15:24
Energy cannot be created nor destroyed. So, as space expands, does the (uncertain) energy per volume of space become diluted? I've also read that dark energy remains constant per volume of space.   In a sense, there is no such entity as dark energy, the expansion of space is a natural characteristic of space itself. Space expands, that's part of what it is. 
Comment icon #32 Posted by EBE Hybrid on 9 August, 2018, 20:58
I watched a great programme about this, Horizon on BBC4 a few weeks back, there was a brilliant physicist, Aussie called Tamara Davis featured in the programme. It's deffo worth looking for the episode of Horizon on BBC iPlayer and also worth looking at the videos on Tamara Davis page
Comment icon #33 Posted by L.A.T.1961 on 9 August, 2018, 21:19
I have quite liked the idea of dark gravity, probably not allowed by the laws of physics as its my idea. It came out of a late night conversation which included quite a lot of alcohol. Basically gravity would reflect back into the universe from its edge. So to work the universe needs to have an edge which would reflect gravity back. I should probably have made a few notes at the time.   Believe it or not I sent the idea to Sky at Night mag, they used to publish letters in the back, strangely my letter did not appear. So if Chris Lintott proposes a new idea for dark mater I will be very suspici... [More]
Comment icon #34 Posted by cyclopes500 on 10 August, 2018, 20:30
What about a weak temporary form of gravity in moving objects. Particles in an accelerator won't go faster than the speed of light because their mass becomes infinite if I remember right. How about this temporary mass generating its own gravity, or something like it. Its weak but its pull gets added to normal gravity. If so a galaxy could be held together by its own movement.


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