Universe Expanding Much Faster, Scientists Say, May Need New Physics to Explain

The universe is expanding so much faster than expected or than it should be, and some new physics may need to be developed to explain what astronomers are now observing, according to a new study led by a Nobel-prize-winning physicist and astronomer.


Universe expanding 10% faster – not a fluke

The universe appears to be expanding 10 percent faster than previously predicted. Previous predictions had been based on the trajectory of the universe shortly after the Big Bang.

A new study published in The Astrophysical Journal has ruled out the probability that these new expansion observations are a mistake or coincidence.

“This mismatch has been growing and has now reached a point that is really impossible to dismiss as a fluke,” said Adam Riess, the lead author of the new study, and a professor of physics and astronomy at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Riess won the Nobel Prize for physics in 2011, sharing the prize along with Brian Schmidt and Saul Perlmutter. The trio showed that, in the late 1990s, the expansion of the universe was accelerating.

“Missing something” on what is driving the expansion

The researchers found that data from two important studies disagreed.

“This is not what we expected,” said Riess. “One is a measurement of how fast the universe is expanding today, as we see it. The other is a prediction based on the physics of the early universe and on measurements of how fast it ought to be expanding.”

“If these values don’t agree, there becomes a very strong likelihood that we’re missing something in the cosmological model that connects the two eras,” Riess added.

Dark energy and dark matter may hold answer

While the researchers are still unclear on what’s driving the acceleration, many astronomers believe the answer might be found in dark energy and dark matter.

A study last year that derived the Hubble Constant using black holes, proposed that the acceleration might be the result of an increase in the density of dark energy.

The current most accepted explanation for the acceleration of the universe’s expansion is dark energy and the belief that it constitutes approximately 70 percent of the matter-energy density of the universe.

Another thought is that dark matter may be interacting with a stronger force against normal matter than astronomers have currently accounted for.

As a result, many see this as indicating the need for a new type of physics to explain the phenomena.