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Space Science

New Study Shows Universe Still Expanding On Schedule 173

Posted by timothy
from the every-time-you-jump-it-screws-things-up dept.
The Bad Astronomer writes "A century ago, astronomers (including Edwin Hubble) discovered the Universe was expanding. Using the same methods — but this time with observations from an orbiting infrared space telescope — a new study confirms this expansion, and nails the rate with higher precision than done before. If you're curious, the expansion rate found was 74.3 +/- 2.1 kilometers per second per megaparsec — almost precisely in line with previous measurements."
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New Study Shows Universe Still Expanding On Schedule

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  • by ixnaay (662250) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:43PM (#41553813)
    Not to be pedantic, but that is an impressive way to misspell 'messureents'.
    • by maroberts (15852)

      Not to be pedantic, but that is an impressive way to misspell 'messureents'.

      The part of the universe covering that word hasn't fully expanded yet..

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      that is an impressive way to misspell 'messureents'

      Wrong. 'messureents' is how you spell 'messureents'.

      • by dudpixel (1429789)

        that is an impressive way to misspell 'messureents'

        Wrong. 'messureents' is how you spell 'messureents'.

        The summary now says "measurements", so I guess the above is correct now?

    • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @07:23PM (#41554079) Homepage

      Not to be pedantic

      Sorry to be pedantic, but you are being pedantic.

    • Not to be pedantic, but that is an impressive way to misspell 'messureents'.

      And yet they calculated the speed of light modified by the expansion of available space to travel through at a potentially non-static rate. I'm sure they didn't make a mistake there either, lol. Okay, here's my amateur astronomer opposition theory: the rest of the universe is gone! IT'S JUST GONE! But we're still receiving light from when it was there. Prove me wrong, lol. See, anyone can make anything up that's unprovable with modern technology.

    • Shirley, it should be Messierments [wikipedia.org] ?
  • by RichardDeVries (961583) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:43PM (#41553819) Journal
    It expands into what?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hutsell (1228828)
      Hilbert Space [wikipedia.org]
      • by RichardDeVries (961583) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:53PM (#41553909) Journal
        On behalf of all 8 year olds: thank you, that was very informative. As for myself: I'm supposed to have an IQ well above 130, but it would probably take me months to make sense of that page.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 04, 2012 @07:40PM (#41554209)

          Unless you have a generic curiosity, don't try to hard to read that, as it is not related to the universe's expansion. The grandparent was just being random or joking. A Hilbert space is just what you get when you treat the set of all continuous functions as a vector space. It has several different possible basis sets of functions you can add up to make any other function, e.g. sine waves via Fourier analysis. Instead of having unit vectors like x, y, and z, you would have unit vectors like sin(x), sin(2x), sin(3x), etc. (which makes it infinite dimensional). The concept is really important to physics, especially quantum mechanics and any where else things like Fourier analysis would be done with some mathematical rigor. But it is not what the universe is expanding into.

          The typical analogy used for what the universe is expanding into is like a balloon being inflated, with that being a 2D universe on the surface of the balloon. You could ask about the third dimension it is expanding into, but that is not really relevant (at the moment at least). The only thing that really matters is the curvature of local space (how non-flat any given spot on the balloon is). Short of discovering some new theories unlike what we've seen before or something like brane theory, the equivalent of the 3D dimension in the balloon analogy would be unreachable and meaningless, as it would not be able to affect things in anyway beyond the curvature of the surface.

    • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:51PM (#41553901)

      Nothingness. There is no space & time outside the physical universe. If that doesn't bake your noodle, I don't know what will.

      The nice thing about Religion^H^H^^H^H^ science is that it advances one funeral at a time. (With apologies to Max Planck :)

      • Question 2

        There is no space & time outside the physical universe.

        Are you sure? How do you know?

        Etc. etc. ad infinitum. It's a good answer though, even I can understand it and it's helpful. Thanks!

      • by kheldan (1460303) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @07:03PM (#41553969) Journal
        Correction: There is no space and time that we can determine with any certainty outside our physical universe.
        • by arth1 (260657) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @07:40PM (#41554207) Homepage Journal

          Correction: There is no space and time that we can determine with any certainty outside our physical universe.

          This is imprecise at best. There is no "outside our physical universe", because dimensions becomes meaningless at the border of the universe, so there is nowhere "outside" for other universes to be. If they exist, they don't exist "outside" our universe, at least not in a dimensional sense.

          As for time, that is a purely local phenomenon, and we can not determine it even inside our universe, except right here. Every "here" will have its own rate of time.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Nostromo21 (1947840)

            "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."

            Flame away. <BFG>

            • The flame wasn't there in the beginning. Lucifer stole it from the heavens and brought it here. That was why he was kicked out of the heaven.
          • by kheldan (1460303)

            This is imprecise at best.

            Really, you have to admit that for something purely theoretical with a high likelyhood of never being proven at all, "imprecise at best" is a moot statement -- at best. :-)

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @07:02PM (#41553965) Journal

      The universe could be a compact manifold, in which case it isn't expanding into anything. That would fit with the essential notion that it is space itself that is expanding.

    • by multiben (1916126) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @07:10PM (#41554015)
      Milk. The universe is surrounded by milk.
    • Other universes. It's that whole 'obesity' thing, which is why the kid should be outside running around and getting exercise rather than sitting inside and asking questions.

    • Hey man, I just work here, OK?

    • by Shavano (2541114)
      Wrong question. The rate of expansion is the rate at which objects in the universe are moving away from each other, in a massively averaged way.
    • by dudpixel (1429789)

      Good point, are we measuring distance, or the speed of light?

    • by Lucas123 (935744)
      Another good question is if a galaxy one megaparsec away (that is, 3.26 million light years) is be moving away from us at 74.3 km/sec.How is it that a galaxy two megaparsecs away is moving at twice that speed, or 148.6 km/sec. That doesn't seem to make sense. Is the theory that the universe is expanding more quickly at the edge than at the center or are we at further out looking in?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So, I'm probably laying out my lack of knowledge on this one, but can someone who knows about that which they speak explain kilometres per second per megaparsec?

    • Re:Units (Score:5, Informative)

      by amRadioHed (463061) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @07:04PM (#41553975)

      Due to expansion, the speed of objects accelerating away from us is proportional to the distance from us. So according to this, an object at 1 megaparsec from us will be receding at 74.3 km/s, while an object at twice the distance will be moving twice as fast.

      • Re:Units (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ImprovOmega (744717) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @07:53PM (#41554289)
        That can't be right. The universe is about 14,000 megaparsecs in radius, even if we were at the exact center that would have things traveling outward at 1.04E9 m/s or 3.46c. I'm reasonably certain they're not claiming FTL on this one so... Is it actually 74.3 m/s instead of 74.3 km/s? Or is there something else going on here?
        • Re:Units (Score:5, Informative)

          by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:12PM (#41554397)
          Space itself can expand FTL, but anything inside that space is limited to c. This also means that at any given point in the universe, there is a boundary where you can never reach beyond, because the space itself is expanding away FTL, so you can never catch up to observe anything beyond that boundary...
          • by shoor (33382) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:42PM (#41554569)

            Something I've been wondering about, but never knew quite where to ask. (Maybe this isn't the place either, but I'll give it a shot.)

            i understand (or at least parse the semantic meaning) that the speed of light through space is fixed, and space can expand fasterthan that. Normally, it seems that the speed of information transmission is also tied to the speed of light, mainly I presume, because paradoxes would arise if it weren't. But can information travel across space at an effective speed uninfluenced by the expansion of space without causing paradoxes? Is it possible that information could still reach us even if light could not?

            • i understand (or at least parse the semantic meaning) that the speed of light through space is fixed, and space can expand fasterthan that. Normally, it seems that the speed of information transmission is also tied to the speed of light, mainly I presume, because paradoxes would arise if it weren't. But can information travel across space at an effective speed uninfluenced by the expansion of space without causing paradoxes? Is it possible that information could still reach us even if light could not?

              FIrst off, don't worry about paradoxes, because physics doesn't. As much as it may hurt our brains, according to Tippler's solution for an infinitely long cylinder, Feynman diagrams and other solutions for Einstein's equations for general relativity, it seems that the physics doesn't bear out paradoxes. However, many of these cases are so extreme that we doubt we'll ever see them and its a safe bet to even say they are not actually possible (although nothing prohibits them according to the physics I have se

          • Hold on there.

            If I recall, one of the principles around c is that two things may not move apart faster than c, either. So if you have an observer with a lantern on a train moving 60mph, the light moves away from the observer at c. But! It also moves away from the train platform at c, not c + 60mph

            Now as I see it, what is being described is that the universe (spacetime) is the train in my scenario. How could you then account for the rate of expansion from the perspective of two individuals, one at each "e

            • Re:Units (Score:5, Informative)

              by thrich81 (1357561) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @10:38PM (#41555151)

              Space itself can expand such that the objects (events?) within it are moving apart at faster than c. Any two objects separating faster than c can't measure that -- they cannot pass any signal between them. Any light (or other signal) which leaves one will be redshifted away to nothing before it gets to the other. They are outside each other's observable universe. I'm pretty sure this has to handled using General Relativity, I don't think Special Relativity has any concept of expanding or contracting space-time. Space-time described by Special Relativity is flat and static.

          • whatever my ship can make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.
          • Posting to fix Accidental mod
        • Just to clarify something that bothers me because so many people seem to believe it despite relativity expressly making it impossible: the universe has no center. Really, look it up. Similarly, the "big bang" does denote an explosion from a specific point.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            The center of the observable universe is exactly where I am at this moment. Beyond the observable universe, we have no idea, so we might as well assume that the center of the universe is the same as the observable universe. Me.

        • "The universe is about 14,000 megaparsecs in radius"

          A parsec is about 3.26 light years therefore a MegaParsec is 3.26 million light years

          Say if you have velocity per distance thats distance per distance per time, the distances cancel out so the value would be a per time in other words a frequency

          a very small frequency of course, but still could be expressed in hertz

    • Re:Units (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Relic of the Future (118669) <dales@digitaFREEBSDlfreaks.org minus bsd> on Thursday October 04, 2012 @07:30PM (#41554135)
      In the vein of xkcd-what-if #11 [xkcd.com], I wonder about the physical meaning of kilometers per second per megaparsec. Kilometer and megaparsec are both lengths, so you can divide them out by the conversion factor (1 megaparsec = 3.08567758 × 10^19 kilometers) and then you are left with "per second", i.e., a frequency. A frequency of about 240 billion gigahertz. What, if anything, does that mean?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think you got your final result messed up:

        (74.3 km / s / mparsec) * (1 / 3x10^19 mparsec / km) = 74.3 ? / s * 3.3x10^-20 ~ 2.4 x 10^-18 cycles per second ~ 403768506056527590 seconds per cycle ~ 12.7 billion years per cycle.

        It helps to actually include the units in your math as "unsolvable variables" that cancel each other out in your conversions. It's a fairly easy way to make sure the math comes out correct. Granted, this extremely rough number is kinda interesting because it is less than 10% off from

      • by Sqr(twg) (2126054)

        You did the math wrong. 74.3 / 3.08567758e19 is approximately 2.4e-18 Hz.

        This is how frequently the universe doubles it current size at the current rate of growth.

  • by badford (874035) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:50PM (#41553881)
    is an anagram of 'megaparsec messureents' thought you'd like to know.
    • You're units are incompatible. I think the units you wanted were football field lengths per fortnight per furlong.

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        hmm...

        Partially right. but the universe expands in 3d, not just linearly.

        What is the answer for hogsheads per fortnight per displacement of Archimedes in a bathtub.

    • Hogshead per fortnight (equivalent to m^3/s) is the wrong unit of measurement for expressing the expansion of the universe. I'd go with 2.4 +/- 0.068 exaHz for a whimsical and opaque way of expressing it.

  • Not to be pedantic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ubergeek65536 (862868) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @07:09PM (#41554009)

    The visible part of the universe is expanding. We have no clue what's happening to the infinitely large part we can't see.

    • by countach (534280) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @07:18PM (#41554055)

      Well, to be pedantic, its a stretch to say "we have no clue". We can make some pretty damned good guesses.

    • by dido (9125)

      Well, there is the dark [slashdot.org] flow [wikipedia.org], a mysterious influence on the motion of distant galaxies whose cause can no longer be observed because it has presumably passed beyond the visible universe. However, we can still see the results of its effect on stuff that is still in the visible universe.

      • Its things like this that we've confirmed as accurate as much as we can that makes me think the universe isn't expanding at all, we're just able to see more of it all the time. The current size of the universe closely correlates with the speed of light and the time it would have taken that light to reach us... coincidence?

        Space itself is supposedly able to expand faster than the speed of light, however I'd like someone to point me to the evidence that this is happening at all.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Doppler shift. Seriously.

          Light can experience doppler shift like sound can (well, really any wave can see a doppler shift). So if two objects are moving away from each other, light from one to the other will be red shifted. If two objects are moving closer together, the light will be blue shifted.

          Since chemicals have known spectral emission/absorption lines, you use that data compared with your observational data of distant objects to figure out the actual shift. Add in some math and you can even figure out

  • It's not called "expansion rate". It's called "the Hubble constant".

  • ... but shouldn't the universe expand at the speed of roughly 300,000 km/s (i.e. speed of light - and information) from any given point of the universe?
    Someone enlighten me please.
    • by Shavano (2541114)
      If that were the case, we wouldn't see anything when we look up at night.
      • If you shine a laser pointer at the sky (not airplane), the beam leaves earth, and about 14 billion years the beam will reach the farthest galaxies we can see. What happens after another 1000 billion years? Will the beam curve back on itself? Will it slow down and go only at the rate of expansion? But, if the beam just keeps on going at c---it would be beyond the ``visible edge'' of the universe, no? Wouldn't that imply that the `non-visible' real edge of the universe has to expand at least at 'c' or else y

  • the expansion rate found was 74.3 +/- 2.1 kilometers per second per megaparsec

    ... what is that in something useful, like Library of Congresses?

  • Never heard of them. How many in the Kessel Run?
  • Edwin Hubble was very sceptical about, so called "Big Bang" theory and claimed that there might be different explanation of redshift effect which he observed.

    ``Astronomer Edwin P. Hubble says that after a six-year study, evidence does not support what we now call the Big Bang theory, according to the Associated Press. “The universe probably is not exploding but is a quiet, peaceful place and possibly just about infinite in size.''''

    Check this paper too:
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1107/1107.248 [arxiv.org]

    • That doesn't mean he was right. The prevailing opinion at the time was for a static, unchanging universe. And the discovery that it was expanding would have been difficult to reconcile with our understanding at the time. Prevailing opinions do change, albeit sometimes slowly, in the face of mounting evidence.
  • Seeing as we can not see the edge of the universe from where we are....
    how can we really tell if yesterday the edge was 1.2 km less then it is today?

    Are we saying that all objects are moving away from each other at that rate?
    Of course not, they have gravity and orbits and all that....
    so what are they using to gauge the edge of the universe has extended from yesterday?

    Seriously! I want to know

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