Space! Already really fucking big (although not as big as your mom) is getting bigger even faster than we previously thought (hey, also just like your mom).
The Hubble Telescope looked at 19 galaxies across the universe and, after analysis, astronomers with NASA and the European Space Agency found they were moving farther away from us.
That lead them to conclude that the entire universe is growing up to 10 percent faster than we previously thought. From The Guardian:
The researchers arrived at a new expansion rate of 73.2 kilometres per second per megaparsec. A megaparsec is 3.26 million light years. The consequence of this adjustment in difficult-to-imagine speeds over unthinkable distances is that the distance between cosmic objects will double in another 9.8 billion years. The catch is that such speeds do not match predictions for an expansion rate from other observations made by Nasa’s Wilkinson microwave anisotropy Probe, or the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite. Both went into orbit to study the afterglow of the Big Bang, in which time, space and matter were created. And both delivered lower – and in each case slightly different – predictions for cosmic expansion, the first 5% and the second 9% lower.
Now, scientists want to figure out what the fuck is causing it. Is it neutrinos? Is it dark matter? Is it a big, intergalactic dude named Rick pushing the universe apart at both ends?
The latest discovery also stirs hypotheses about what fills the 95% of the cosmos that emits no light and no radiation, scientists said on Thursday.
One possibility for the discrepancy is that the universe has unknown subatomic particles, similar to neutrinos, that travel nearly as fast as the speed of light, about 186,000 miles (300,000km) per second.
Another idea is that so-called “dark energy”, a mysterious, anti-gravity force discovered in 1998, may be shoving galaxies away from one another more powerfully than originally estimated.
“This may be an important clue to understanding those parts of the universe that make up 95% of everything and that don’t emit light, such as dark energy, dark matter and dark radiation,” said Riess, with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
This leads to a kinda scary, existential thought. If galaxies are moving away from us, we eventually may never be able to see them.
It also raised the possibility that, an unimaginable number of years from now, all the other galaxies will have receded over some cosmic horizon, leaving the Milky Way alone in the visible universe, and with no distant objects to provide any evidence at all of accelerating cosmic expansion.
So, is it just a coincidence that we developed the ability to view the universe at the time in history it was around for us to see it? Like if humans developed on Earth three billion years later, we may have built telescopes, and seen nothing at all.
Fucking trippy shit on a Friday, yo.
[Via The Guardian]
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