New measurements of the universe’s expansion rate


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The uncertainty of science: New measurements of the universe’s expansion rate are apparently in agreement with some previous measurements but not with others.

The Hubble constant — the rate at which the Universe is expanding — is one of the fundamental quantities describing our Universe. A group of astronomers, the H0LiCOW collaboration, used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and other telescopes in space and on the ground to observe five galaxies in order to arrive at an independent measurement of the Hubble constant. The new measurement is completely independent of — but in excellent agreement with — other measurements of the Hubble constant in the local Universe that used Cepheid variable stars and supernovae as points of reference.

…However, the value measured by Suyu and her team, as well as those measured using Cepheids and supernovae, are different from the measurement made by the ESA Planck satellite. But there is an important distinction — Planck measured the Hubble constant for the early Universe by observing the cosmic microwave background. While the value for the Hubble constant determined by Planck fits with our current understanding of the cosmos, the values obtained by the different groups of astronomers for the local Universe are in disagreement with our accepted theoretical model of the Universe.

Both measurements are very precise, but they do not match, suggesting that there are some basic fundamentals here that astronomers simply do not yet understand.

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15 comments

  • steve mackelprang

    Halton Arp

  • Edward

    Thus, we know the age of the universe with great precision but not with great accuracy.

  • wayne

    Steve-
    Have to disagree with Arp, although he raises some good questions.
    As was noted in his obituary write-up, “He took a whole Cosmology with him when he died.”

    Personally, I have problems with Bang Theory & Lambda-CDM myself, (but I only play a Cosmologist on the interweb) but it does appear to explain a lot.
    (I also think we are on the verge of a major paradigm-shift but don’t think it will morph to Arp type stuff.)

    I’d pivot slightly and recommend an enlightening lecture from Dr. Susskind, (although I’m not a string-theory guy myself.)

    Supersymmetry and Grand Unification (1 of 2)
    https://youtu.be/Ep-8P64Uoiw
    (1:41:21)

  • wayne

    Edward–
    Most excellent!

  • Ben k

    Wayne – i second the recommendation of Dr. Susskind’s lectures. His whole Theoretical Minimum series is well worth viewing.

  • wayne

    Ben K–

    Cool! Have all Susskind’s class-lectures downloaded and try to watch & re-watch them intermittently–I pick up new stuff every time, and the Math is becoming more familiar.

    (Not a string-theory guy myself, but do find Susskind to be a ‘good explainer.’ And he’s the Master of Chalkboard’s!))
    -Have seen the Theoretical Minimum lectures, and that topic is pretty complex.

    My favorite super-genius, is Dr. Roger Penrose. (Master of the Overhead Projector) He’s been on a book tour promoting his new book — no new revelations from him, but very enlightening stuff.
    >”Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe.”
    Multiple videos from him at YouTube, discussing it.

  • steve mackelprang

    I of course didn’t mean to imply Mr. Arp had all the right answers, I do think he pointed out some things that need to be re-examined.

  • wayne

    Steve m–
    Absolutely. I totally forgot about Arp until you reminded me of him, so… good deal.
    >It’s necessary to keep all these people (and their theories,) on their toes! (dead or alive)

    I don’t mean to imply Dr. Penrose, has all the right answers, either.
    Personally I do find his Conformal Cyclical Cosmology stuff to be fascinating.
    He doesn’t like the “inflation” aspect of Bang Theory

    a multiple repeat from me–
    Sir Roger Penrose,
    “Aeons before the Big Bang”
    (Copernicus Center Lecture 2010)
    https://youtu.be/4YYWUIxGdl4
    (1:57:35)

    ( I could watch Penrose play with overhead-projectors, all day long.)

  • wayne

    Tangentially off-thread, but I must shill for almost anything from the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture series folks.

    Excellent Public-Lectures
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-J3Rig6mrJhGECH-yVMwSg

    Two recent lectures– on gravitational-waves & the science & non-science of Star Wars, are pretty good.

  • Cotour

    Related because this is about changing how “WE” see the universe and what the consciousness that perceives that universe is defined as:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/strange-new-world-scientists-create-human-pig-embryo_us_588ab443e4b0303c0752e5ce?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

    This experiment intersects with our discussion of the “Kara” robot / android and what consciousness and what being human may become.

  • wayne

    Cotour–
    Saw that…. it’s “creepy.”

  • Joe

    I concur with Edwards post, we need better instruments to know more about where the ends of the worlds are, most all of this is just a wild a** guess!

  • wayne

    Joe-
    I would also concur.
    A new telescope in Hawaii, would be a good start.

  • Wayne, Joe, and Edward: Though I admit to many concerns and doubts about the James Webb Space Telescope, it is precisely the instrument we need to study deep space cosmology such as the Hubble Constant. This is what it was designed to do, and when launched, this will be its primary task, assuming of course it works as planned.

  • Edward

    My comment, while intended to be humorous, was also intended to point out the uncertainty of science, the need to verify previous conclusions, and the confusion many people have between precision and accuracy. Usually I am not that succinct on even a single topic.

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