Our universe is larger than most of us could ever fathom. But according to a new study, it even goes beyond lead astronomers' wild imagination. As a group of researchers recently revealed, the galaxy is expanding at surprisingly rapid rates. Here's how they explained it.
It all started when a group of researchers at Johns Hopkins University set off to further study our universe - more specifically, it's remarkable size. With the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, the team compiled an entirely new dataset which documented the rapid expansion of our universe. As for what they discovered? If their findings were correct, the universe is expanding at rates that even dark energy can not explain.
Detailed further in The Astrophysical Journal, the study uncovered that the distance between our galaxy and those surrounding was significantly greater than previously recorded: 73.04 kilometers per second per megaparsec - about 8% higher than the Planck observatory’s measurements. A mere phenomenon? Or perhaps was there a miscalculation at play here? "I do not know how this large of an error is hiding at this point, and if it is, it’s just something no one has suggested," confessed team member Dan Scolnic, a Duke University astronomer. "We’ve checked every idea that’s been presented to us, and nothing’s doing the trick." The truth is that precisely measuring surrounding stars and galaxies is far more complicated than imaginable. For starters, not every subject appears the same to the naked eye, meaning the possibility for confusion or variation is very high.
Nonetheless, team lead Adam Riess, an astronomer at Johns Hopkins University, remains hopeful about his latest finding. "We’ve listened, I think, carefully to a lot of concerns and issues," he assured. "This isn’t just a ‘shazam’ … We’ve done a lot of deep dives down rabbit holes."
Of course, though, there is still lots to be learned here. "We’re working at the edge of what is possible," Wendy Freedman, a fellow researcher at the University of Chicago, added. "We will get to the bottom of this." That being said, be sure to stay tuned while this fascinating story develops.