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Astronomers propose new way of measuring the universe’s expansion

12 Jul 2018, 08:55 UTC
Astronomers propose new way of measuring the universe’s expansion
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Artist’s depiction of the last instances of a neutron star and black hole merger, as the neutron star is destroyed by the tidal pull of the black hole (at the center of the disk). Image credit: A. Tonita, L. Rezzolla, F. Pannarale
Since it first exploded into existence 13.8 billion years ago, the universe has been expanding, dragging along with it hundreds of billions of galaxies and stars, much like raisins in a rapidly rising dough.
Astronomers have pointed telescopes to certain stars and other cosmic sources to measure their distance from Earth and how fast they are moving away from us — two parameters that are essential to estimating the Hubble constant, a unit of measurement that describes the rate at which the universe is expanding.
But to date, the most precise efforts have landed on very different values of the Hubble constant, offering no definitive resolution to exactly how fast the universe is growing. This information, scientists believe, could shed light on the universe’s origins, as well as its fate, and whether the cosmos will expand indefinitely or ultimately collapse.
Now scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, both in the United States, have ...

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