Mystery over Universe’s expansion deepens with fresh data

Mystery over Universe’s expansion deepens with fresh data
Source: Nature

A new map of the early Universe has reinforced a long-running conundrum in astronomy over how fast the cosmos is expanding. The data — collected using a telescope in Chile’s Atacama Desert — back up previous estimates of the Universe’s age, geometry and evolution. But the findings clash with measurements of how fast galaxies are flying apart from each other, and predict that the Universe should be expanding at a significantly slower pace than is currently observed.

The Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) mapped the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the radiation ‘afterglow’ of the Big Bang. The findings, based on data collected from 2013 to 2016, were posted on 15 July in two preprints on the arXiv repository2,1.

CMB radiation comes from all directions of space, but it is not perfectly uniform: its variations across the sky reveal that regions of the early Universe differed slightly in temperature, by less than 0.03 kelvin. Over the past two decades, cosmologists have used those minute variations — together with an established theory they call the standard model — to calculate some of the key features of the Universe’s structure and evolution, including its age and the density of matter.

bigbang.gif, Jul 2020



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