Researchers have discovered that the universe is expanding at a different rate than what was previously believed – a discovery that might fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe.
In a paper published in the Astrophysics Journal, a team of scientists studied The light emitted from 1,550 distinct supernovae, some near our very own Milky Way and several in the far reaches of the Universe, to study The expansion and composition of the Universe.
Their analysis, which they call Pantheon, consists of some of the most comprehensive measurements ever made.
“With these Pantheon results, we are able to place The most precise restrictions on the dynamics and history of the universe to date,” Dillon Brout, co-author and researcher at Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics, said in an interview with the Harvard Gazette.
Their findings corroborate some existing theories about dark matter, a mysterious yet plentiful component which scientists have yet to observe and / or measure directly, and dark energy, a hypothetical type of energy that acts as the complete opposite of gravity.
Their research indicates that the universe is roughly comprised of two-thirds dark energy as well as one-third matter, the latter portion of which is mostly comprised of dark matter.
“We’ve combed through the data and are now able to say with more confidence than before the way the universe has developed over the eons and that the present best theories for dark energy and dark matter remain strong,” said David Brout, UC Berkeley physics professor.
Nonetheless, the study fails to correct among the greatest discrepancies in astronomy: The Hubble tension or even the obvious mismatch between previous, locally determined estimates of the expansion rate of the Universe and measurement derived from the cosmic microwave background, electromagnetic remnants of the earliest known stages of the Universe.
The new research suggests the universe is expanding at approximately 160,000 miles per hour, while previous measurements that take the cosmic microwave background into account realized it was growing more slowly than that.
While Pantheon may have confirmed the discrepancy, it didn’t exactly provide answers for it.
“While we believed it would be possible to access clues to these problems in our dataset, we are now discovering that our data rules away many of these selections and that the serious discrepancies remain so stubborn as ever,” said David Brout, a member of the Harvard Gazette editorial board.
“It definitely indicates,’ the researcher told Agence France Presse, “that potentially something is fishy with our knowledge of the universe.”
Pantheon certainly has opened more doors than it shut. This’s part of the great thing about science – the research completed by Brout and his team could lay the groundwork for most discoveries in the future.
As a chemist, we thrive on not knowing everything, “Brout told AFP. “There is still likely to be a major change in our understanding, coming potentially in our lifetimes,” he said.