The accelerating, expanding Universe. Credit: NASA/WMAP

Accelerating Expansion of Universe Discovery Wins 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics

4 Oct , 2011 by

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Three scientists shared the 2011 Nobel Prize for physics for the discovery that the expansion of the universe is speeding up, the Nobel prize committee announced today. Half of the $1.5 million prize went to American Saul Perlmutter and the rest to two members of a second team which conducted similar work: American Adam Riess and U.S.-born Brian Schmidt, who is based in Australia. All three made the discovery through observations of distant supernovae.

Perlmutter is from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California, Berkeley, and worked on the Supernova Cosmology Project. Schmidt is from the Australian National University and Riess is from the Johns Hopkins University and Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore. They worked together on the High-z Supernova Search Team.

In response to the announcement, Professor Sir Peter Knight, President of the Institute of Physics, said, “The recipients of today’s award are at the frontier of modern astrophysics and have triggered an enormous amount of research on dark energy.

“These researchers have opened our eyes to the true nature of our Universe. They are very well-deserved recipients.”

Source: IOP

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jimpct
Member
jimpct
October 4, 2011 3:25 PM

Please excuse my lack of espertise in this field. Since the acceleration seems to be taking place in the most distant reaches of the universe, is it possible that it is being drawn to something ?

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
October 4, 2011 4:28 PM

Everything is expanding away from everything else. If you are on a galaxy you see all other galaxies moving away from you radially in all directions. This is observed on all galaxies. The motion of expansion has been found to be accelerating outwards. Permutter found this with SNI data and it has been further corroborated with other data ranging from WMAP to Hubble Space Telescope data.

LC

Jeremiah Barkman
Guest
Jeremiah Barkman
October 4, 2011 11:16 PM

There is some work on this idea about a drift occurring to some galaxies. Look up dark flow on Google for some info. But the expansion acceleration is another effect caused by what has been called Dark Energy. But it is a very GOOD question.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
October 7, 2011 2:15 PM

Good question. But it turns out that when the observations are gathered, no one is in fact a center of sorts, no one is “privileged” as simplest physics would indeed predict.

To visualize that “everything is expanding away from everything else”, a rising raisin bread may help. Imagine that microscopically you stand on one raisin. Then every other raisin will accelerate away as the bread raises.

That will look the same, whichever raisin you stand on.

Dark energy is like discovering that the yeast has started to grow again instead of running out of sugar as expected.

Where does the sugar come from? Stand by for the scientists to work out the sweets…

jimpct
Member
jimpct
October 4, 2011 3:29 PM

expertise

DrFlimmer
Member
DrFlimmer
October 4, 2011 6:38 PM

Btw: You can edit your posts, now.

jimpct
Member
jimpct
October 4, 2011 6:45 PM

thanks

DrFlimmer
Member
DrFlimmer
October 4, 2011 6:39 PM

Congratulations to all three of them. smile

Sometimes I have the impression that an astronomer can only win the Nobel Prize if he is into cosmology.
I am also quite sure that my work concerning some spectral features of blazars does not deserve a Nobel Prize. grin

TerryG
Member
October 5, 2011 1:46 AM
Ha Ha LOL. Worry not DrFlimmer. You aren’t missing much. – The “accelerating expansion of the universe” results have been known for about a decade, so what was holding back the Nobel committee? Were they waiting to check if the expansion stopped or does committee time somehow tick more slowly? – The prize of ~$1.5 million aussie dollars divided by 3 recipients and divided again into each of ten years that past since the work was completed amounts to little more than an average annual salary give or take. – There is a Nobel prize awarded for Economics, as though that were a meritorious scientific field, and yet look at the deteriorating state of the World’s finances. –… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
October 7, 2011 2:18 PM

The prize is inflating down.

But actually the Nobel Foundation has invested wisely, and the capital has increased faster. I expect they will adjust the award when the current economical situation resolves. But don’t hold your breath.

Nexus
Member
October 4, 2011 8:45 PM

[IVAN]
Heading should read “Nobel Prize”, not “Noble”.
[/IVAN]

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
October 7, 2011 2:19 PM

It was a Noble effort, though.

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