According to scientists, the universe is expanding at a much faster rate than previously thought, and something ‘beyond our current knowledge’ is causing it.
Astronomers have revealed that new measurements of the Hubble Constant –Hubble’s initial value for the expansion rate, now called the Hubble Constant— have revealed a discrepancy between the new values and other recent estimates, which has led researchers to suggest that something ‘beyond our current knowledge’ may be causing it.
The new study has yielded surprising results as researchers estimate that the universe’s rate of expansion is around 71.9 kilometers per second per Megaparsec—a megaparsec is a measurement of distance equal to one million parsecs or 3.26 million light years.
Curiously, when compared to measurements made by the ESA’s Planck satellite mission in 2015 –which suggests the universe rate of expansion is 66.9 kilometers per second per megaparsec— researchers notices a discrepancy.
The new discovery, which has been categorized as ‘controversial’ by some, was made by an international team of researchers known as HOLiCOW (Awesome name right?).
HOLiCOW Astronomers are set to feature five papers published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Astronomers made use of the Hubble Space Telescope which allowed them to take a peek at three galaxies which act as massive cosmic gravitational lenses, bending light from a distant quasar.
Observations allowed astronomers to snap several images of the quasars which are known to fluctuate in brightness.
So, how did HOLiCOW astronomers notice something was odd?
AS it turns out, the uneven mass distribution of these galaxies hints that there are some areas that bend light more than others. This causes light from the quasar to arrive at different times, which depends on their exact route through the cosmic lens.
In order to calculate the Hubble Constant, aka rate of expansion, astronomers measured the ‘traffic delay’.
After doing the math, astronomers discovered that the numbers closely agree with what scientists discovered from separate observations made in 2016, but completely disagree with observations made with the Planck space telescope, which measure radiation from the cosmic microwave background.
“The expansion rate of the Universe is now starting to be measured in different ways with such high precision that actual discrepancies may possibly point towards new physics beyond our current knowledge of the Universe,” said Sherry Suyu at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany.
“The tension between local and CMB measurements of the Hubble constant is strengthened by the new strong lensing observations,’ says Frederic Courbin at EPFL’s Laboratory of Astrophysics, which is part of HOLiCOW. The tension cam be caused by new physics beyond the standard Cosmological Model, in particular new forms of dark energy.”