Home / Science / News /  Universe expanding ‘mysteriously’? What Hubble telescope's finding suggests
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The universe is very likely to double in size in 10 billion years!

This prediction is being called the most accurate, with experts and astronomers narrowing the expansion rate to a precision of just over 1%. 

The Hubble Telescope is now focusing on one of its most challenging missions – finding out how quickly the universe is expanding. The findings so far suggest that something unusual is happening in our universe, NASA says.

Something unusual in the universe

NASA said there is a difference in the rate of expansion of the universe as it is around us and observations right after the Big Bang, suggesting "something weird" is going on in the universe.

To understand the strange phenomenon, they are studying the data gathered by Hubble on a set of “milepost markets" in space and time, which can be used to track the expansion rate of the universe as they move away from us.

NASA said Hubble has calibrated more than 40 “milepost markers" since its launch in 1990.

“You are getting the most precise measure of the expansion rate for the universe from the gold standard of telescopes and cosmic mile markers," said Nobel laureate Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

This discrepancy has made scientists assess their understanding and start over. They are now waiting for the new James Webb Space Telescope to start sending data, so that they can go deeper to solve this mystery.

Hubble Telescope

Edwin Hubble discovered that several galaxies outside of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, weren't standing still and that the farther a galaxy is, the faster it appears to be moving away from us. This was what turned out to be the expansion rate of space and Hubble studied these galaxies as milestones or markers of space. The expansion rate is called the Hubble constant, a unit of measurement that shows the universe is getting bigger since the Big Bang.

The study of the expansion of the universe began in 1920 with measurements by astronomers Edwin P Hubble, after whom the telescope is named, and Georges Lemaitre. Hubble said that galaxies outside of ours appeared to be moving away from us, adding the further they are from us the faster they are moving away. Since then, scientists have been trying to understand and measure this expansion.

When the Hubble telescope started gathering data, it turned out that the rate of expansion was quicker than models had predicted so far. Models predicted the rate at 67.5 kilometers per second per megaparsec, but observations showed it is around 73.

Nasa says that given the large Hubble sample size, there is only a one-in-a-million chance astronomers are wrong due to an unlucky draw.

Hubble Telescope's findings

The Hubble telescope is one of the most potent space-based observatories which has helped scientists understand and solve many cosmic mysteries. In its 30 years of service, the telescope has snapped more than 1.3 billion photographs of intriguing events.

The findings are set to be published in the Special Focus issue of The Astrophysical Journal, which will reveal the completion of the biggest and likely last major update on the Hubble constant. The new results more than double the prior sample of cosmic distance markers.

The observations have been going on since Hubble got into orbit, and they were enhanced in 2005 and again in 2009 after the addition of powerful new cameras on board the Hubble telescope. Nobel Laureate Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and Johns Hopkins University led the scientific collaboration investigating the universe's expansion rate called SH0ES or Supernova, H0, for the Equation of State of Dark Energy.

"This is what the Hubble Space Telescope was built to do, using the best techniques we know to do it. This is likely Hubble's magnum opus because it would take another 30 years of Hubble's life to even double this sample size," Riess said. The telescope studied 42 of the supernova milepost markers in space.

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