Hubble Space Telescope Teams Up With Gaia To Precisely Measure Universe Expansion

Posted: Jul 14 2018, 11:40pm CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Hubble Space Telescope Teams up with Gaia to Precisely Measure Universe Expansion
Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)

Combining Hubble and Gaia observations, astronomers have further refined the previous value for the Hubble constant.

Using two of the world’s most powerful space telescopes, researchers have made the most precise measurements yet of Universe’s expansion rate. The results are significant and lend support to the idea that the expansion rate of the nearby universe is different from that of distant, primeval universe. The mismatch of measurements could also hint at the presence of new physics in the universe.

The expansion of the universe was first introduced by Edwin Hubble nearly a century ago and it contradicts the idea that that the universe is static and it stayed the same throughout eternity.

Researchers use Hubble telescope to refine the measurements of the distances to galaxies and calculate how fast the universe expands with time. The rate at which the universe expands is called Hubble constant. But as the measurements became more precise over the years, they showed a nagging discrepancy between previous measurements of the current expansion rate. Now astronomers further refined the value for the Hubble constant by combining observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency's (ESA) Gaia space observatory,

"With the addition of this new Gaia and Hubble Space Telescope data, we now have a serious tension with the Cosmic Microwave Background data.” George Efstathiou of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology in Cambridge, who was not involved in the study, said.

The measurements of early universe's expansion (13.8 billion years ago after the Big Bang) are made by the European Space Agency's Planck satellite. The satellite maps the cosmic microwave background, which is a relic of the big bang. Although these measurements are still used, their predictions don't seem to match the recent measurements of our nearby contemporary universe. With the help of Hubble and Gaia measurements, researchers have reduced that uncertainty to a great extent.

"Hubble is really amazing as a general-purpose observatory, but Gaia is the new gold standard for calibrating distance,” said Stefano Casertano of the Space Telescope Science Institute. "Gaia brings a new ability to recalibrate all past distance measures, and it seems to confirm our previous work. It's a crosscheck between two very powerful and precise observatories."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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