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The uncertainty of science: A new peer-reviewed paper in a major astronomy science journal suggests that dark energy might not actually exist, and that the evidence for it might simply be because the original data was biased by the Milky Way’s own movement.
What [the scientists in this new paper] found is that the best fit to the data is that the redshift of supernovae is not the same in all directions, but that it depends on the direction. This direction is aligned with the direction in which we move through the cosmic microwave background. And – most importantly – you do not need further redshift to explain the observations.
If what they say is correct, then it is unnecessary to postulate dark energy which means that the expansion of the universe might not speed up after all.
Why didn’t Perlmutter and Riess [the discoverers of dark energy] come to this conclusion? They could not, because the supernovae that they looked were skewed in direction. The ones with low redshift were in the direction of the CMB dipole; and high redshift ones away from it. With a skewed sample like this, you can’t tell if the effect you see is the same in all directions.
The link is to a blog post by a physicist in the field, commenting on the new paper. Below the fold I have embedded a video from that same physicist that does a nice job of illustrating what she wrote.
This paper does not disprove dark energy. It instead illustrates the large uncertainties involved, as well as show solid evidence that the present consensus favoring the existence of dark energy should be questioned.
But then, that’s how real science works. When the data is sketchy or thin, with many assumptions, it is essential that everyone, especially the scientists in the field, question the results. We shall see now if the physics community will do this.
Hat tip to reader Mike Nelson.