How Cosmologists Determined That the Universe Is Expanding Faster Than Anyone Thought


A team of astronomers from the Space Telescope Institute and John Hopkins University led by Nobel laureate Adam Reiss has confirmed data that the universe is expanding significantly faster than previously thought.

As detailed in a forthcoming paper for The Astrophysical Journal, Reiss and his colleagues used four years’ worth of data from the Hubble Space Telescope to determine that the universe is expanding about 9 percent faster than other leading measurements predicted—a wild mismatch in a field as precise as cosmology.

The data used to reach this conclusion is the most accurate measurement of the expansion of the universe since it was discovered to be expanding nearly a century ago.

The results raise profound questions about what could be causing the mismatch between predictions about the acceleration of the expanding universe, and may lead to fundamental insights about the nature of dark energy.

“The community is really grappling with understanding the meaning of this discrepancy,” Reiss, who shared a Nobel Prize for discovering that the universe expands at an accelerating rate in 1998, said in a statement.

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