According to NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope has hit a new milestone in its efforts to determine how rapidly the universe is expanding, and it strongly suggests that something weird is occurring in our universe.
In the past few years,astronomers have used telescopes such as Hubble to determine how fast our universe is expanding.
However, when those measurements became more exact, they revealed something unusual. When comparing data from soon after the Big Bang to the pace of expansion of the universe as it is now, there is a significant difference.
Scientists have been unable to explain the discrepancy. However, it shows that "something weird" is going on in our cosmos, which might be the product of undiscovered, new physics, according to NASA.
Hubble has spent the last 30 years collecting data on a set of "milepost markers" in space and time that can be used to trace the expansion rate of the cosmos as it moves away from us.
According to NASA, it has now calibrated more than 40 of the markers, allowing for even more precision than previously.
In a statement, Nobel Laureate Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, stated, "You are getting the most precise measure of the expansion rate for the universe from the gold standard of telescopes and cosmic mile markers."
He is the leader of a group of scientists who have released a new research paper detailing the largest and most likely last significant update from the Hubble Space Telescope, tripling the previous set of mile markers and reanalyzing existing data.
The hunt for a precise estimate of how quickly space was expanding began when American astronomer Edwin Hubble saw that galaxies beyond our own appeared to be moving away from us – and moving faster the further away they are. Since then, scientists have been working to gain a deeper understanding of that growth.
In honor of the astronomer's effort, both the rate of expansion and the space telescope that has been studying it are named Hubble.
When the space telescope began gathering data on the universe's expansion, it was discovered to be faster than models had expected. Astronomers anticipate that it should be approximately 67.5 kilometers per second per megaparsec, plus or minus 0.5, while measurements suggest that it is closer to 73.
Astronomers have a one in a million probability of getting it incorrect. Instead, it implies that the universe's growth and expansion are more intricate than we previously thought, and that there is still much to discover about how the cosmos is changing.
Scientists plan to dive more into this challenge using the new James Webb Space Telescope, which was just launched into space and will shortly bring back its first observations. This should allow them to view new, more distant, and higher-resolution mileposts.