The universe is moving too fast and nobody knows why.
Back in the early years of the universe, right after the Big Bang, everything blasted away from everything else. We can still see the light from that blast, by observing very faraway parts of the universe where light takes billions of years to reach our telescopes. And we can measure how fast things were moving in those faraway spotsBased on that speed, we can calculate how fast the universe should be expanding today.
But when astronomers have tried to directly measure how fast the universe is expanding today — a more difficult task, because everything is farther apart now — things seem to be moving faster than those calculations would predict. And a new paper, based on highly detailed observations taken using the Hubble Space Telescope, appears to confirm that finding: Everything is moving about 9 percent too fast.
And still, nobody knows why.
Earlier observations of that increased speed still had a 1 in 3,000 chance that astronomers were wrong, which is considered pretty high for an astrophysics result. This new paper improves astronomers’ confidence, with just a 1 in 100,000 chance of being based on an observational error. It’s due for publication in the April 25 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters, and is available on the preprint server arXiv.
“This mismatch has been growing and has now reached a point that is really impossible to dismiss as a fluke. This is not what we expected,” lead author Adam Riess, a Johns Hopkins University Nobel laureate and astrophysicist, said in a statement.