Standard Model of Universe Wrong? New Precision Distance Measurements Inconsistent With Theory

Water-Bearing Gas Disk Orbiting Black Hole

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Artist’s conception highlighting a disk of water-bearing gas orbiting the supermassive great void at the core of a far-off galaxy. By observing maser emission from such disks, astronomers can utilize geometry to determine the range to the galaxies, a crucial requirement for computing the Hubble Constant. Credit: Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF

Observational Results Bolster Challenge to Theory

A brand-new set of accuracy range measurements made with a global collection of radio telescopes have actually significantly increased the probability that theorists require to modify the “standard model” that explains the basic nature of the Universe.

The brand-new range measurements permitted astronomers to improve their computation of the Hubble Constant, the growth rate of the Universe, a worth crucial for evaluating the theoretical design explaining the structure and development of the Universe. The issue is that the brand-new measurements worsen an inconsistency in between formerly determined worths of the Hubble Constant and the worth forecasted by the design when used to measurements of the cosmic microwave background made by the Planck satellite.

“We find that galaxies are nearer than predicted by the standard model of cosmology, corroborating a problem identified in other types of distance measurements. There has been debate over whether this problem lies in the model itself or in the measurements used to test it. Our work uses a distance measurement technique completely independent of all others, and we reinforce the disparity between measured and predicted values. It is likely that the basic cosmological model involved in the predictions is the problem,” stated James Braatz, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).

Braatz leads the Megamaser Cosmology Project, a global effort to determine the Hubble Constant by discovering galaxies with particular residential or commercial properties that provide themselves to yielding exact geometric ranges. The task has actually utilized the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), and Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), together with the Effelsberg telescope in Germany. The group reported their most current lead to the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Edwin Hubble, after whom the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope is called, initially computed the growth rate of deep space (the Hubble Constant) in 1929 by determining the ranges to galaxies and their economic downturn speeds. The more far-off a galaxy is, the higher its economic downturn speed from Earth. Today, the Hubble Constant stays a basic home of observational cosmology and a focus of numerous contemporary research studies.

Measuring economic downturn speeds of galaxies is reasonably uncomplicated. Determining cosmic ranges, nevertheless, has actually been an uphill struggle for astronomers. For things in our own Milky Way Galaxy, astronomers can get ranges by determining the obvious shift in the item’s position when seen from opposite sides of Earth’s orbit around the Sun, a result called parallax. The initially such measurement of a star’s parallax range was available in 1838.

Beyond our own Galaxy, parallaxes are too little to determine, so astronomers have actually counted on things called “standard candles,” so called since their intrinsic brightness is presumed to be understood. The range to a things of recognized brightness can be computed based upon how dim the item appears from Earth. These basic candle lights consist of a class of stars called Cepheid variables and a particular kind of excellent surge called a Type Ia supernova.

Another technique of approximating the growth rate includes observing far-off quasars whose light is bent by the gravitational result of a foreground galaxy into numerous images. When the quasar differs in brightness, the modification appears in the various images at various times. Measuring this time distinction, together with estimations of the geometry of the light-bending, yields a price quote of the growth rate.

Determinations of the Hubble Constant based upon the basic candle lights and the gravitationally-lensed quasars have actually produced figures of 73-74 kilometers per 2nd (the speed) per megaparsec (range in systems preferred by astronomers).

However, forecasts of the Hubble Constant from the basic cosmological design when used to measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) — the remaining radiation from the Big Bang — produce a worth of 67.4, a substantial and unpleasant distinction. This distinction, which astronomers state is beyond the speculative mistakes in the observations, has major ramifications for the basic design.

The design is called Lambda Cold Dark Matter, or Lambda CDM, where “Lambda” describes Einstein’s cosmological consistent and is a representation of dark energy. The design divides the structure of the Universe generally in between regular matter, dark matter, and dark energy, and explains how the Universe has actually developed because the Big Bang.

The Megamaser Cosmology Project concentrates on galaxies with disks of water-bearing molecular gas orbiting supermassive great voids at the galaxies’ centers. If the orbiting disk is seen almost edge-on from Earth, brilliant areas of radio emission, called masers — radio analogs to visible-light lasers — can be utilized to identify both the physical size of the disk and its angular degree, and for that reason, through geometry, its range. The task’s group utilizes the around the world collection of radio telescopes to make the accuracy measurements needed for this strategy.

In their most current work, the group fine-tuned their range measurements to 4 galaxies, at ranges varying from 168 million light-years to 431 million light-years. Combined with previous range measurements of 2 other galaxies, their estimations produced a worth for the Hubble Constant of 73.9 kilometers per 2nd per megaparsec.

“Testing the standard model of cosmology is a really challenging problem that requires the best-ever measurements of the Hubble Constant. The discrepancy between the predicted and measured values of the Hubble Constant points to one of the most fundamental problems in all of physics, so we would like to have multiple, independent measurements that corroborate the problem and test the model. Our method is geometric, and completely independent of all others, and it reinforces the discrepancy,” stated Dom Pesce, a scientist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard and Smithsonian, and lead author on the most recent paper.

“The maser technique of determining the growth rate of deep space is sophisticated, and, unlike the others, based upon geometry. By determining very exact positions and characteristics of maser areas in the accretion disk surrounding a far-off great void, we can identify the range to the host galaxies and after that the growth rate. Our arise from this distinct strategy enhances the case for a crucial issue in observational cosmology.” stated Mark Reid of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard and Smithsonian, and a member of the Megamaser Cosmology Project group.

“Our measurement of the Hubble Constant is very close to other recent measurements, and statistically very different from the predictions based on the CMB and the standard cosmological model. All indications are that the standard model needs revision,” stated Braatz.

Astronomers have different methods to change the design to solve the disparity. Some of these consist of altering anticipations about the nature of dark energy, moving far from Einstein’s cosmological consistent. Others take a look at basic modifications in particle physics, such as altering the numbers or kinds of neutrinos or the possibilities of interactions amongst them. There are other possibilities, much more unique, and at the minute researchers have no clear proof for discriminating amongst them.

“This is a classic case of the interplay between observation and theory. The Lambda CDM model has worked quite well for years, but now observations clearly are pointing to a problem that needs to be solved, and it appears the problem lies with the model,” Pesce stated.


Reference: “The Megamaser Cosmology Project. XIII. Combined Hubble Constant Constraints” by D. W. Pesce, J. A. Braatz, M. J. Reid, A. G. Riess, D. Scolnic, J. J. Condon, F. Gao, C. Henkel, C. M. V. Impellizzeri, C. Y. Kuo and K. Y. Lo, 26 February 2020, Astrophyiscal Journal Letters.
DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab75f0
arXiv: 2001.09213

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a center of the National Science Foundation, run under cooperative arrangement by Associated Universities, Inc.

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