A map of the CMB as captured by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe. Credit: WMAP team

The Laws Of Cosmology May Need A Re-Write

Article written: 12 Apr , 2016
Updated: 15 Apr , 2016
by

Something’s up in cosmology that may force us to re-write a few textbooks. It’s all centred around the measurement of the expansion of the Universe, which is, obviously, a pretty key part of our understanding of the cosmos.

The expansion of the Universe is regulated by two things: Dark Energy and Dark Matter. They’re like the yin and yang of the cosmos. One drives expansion, while one puts the brakes on expansion. Dark Energy pushes the universe to continually expand, while Dark Matter provides the gravity that retards that expansion. And up until now, Dark Energy has appeared to be a constant force, never wavering.

How is this known? Well, the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) is one way the expansion is measured. The CMB is like an echo from the early days of the Universe. It’s the evidence left behind from the moment about 380,000 years after the Big Bang, when the rate of expansion of the Universe stabilized. The CMB is the source for most of what we know of Dark Energy and Dark Matter. (You can hear the CMB for yourself by turning on a household radio, and tuning into static. A small percentage of that static is from the CMB. It’s like listening to the echo of the Big Bang.)

The CMB has been measured and studied pretty thoroughly, most notably by the ESA’s Planck Observatory, and by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP). The Planck, in particular, has given us a snapshot of the early Universe that has allowed cosmologists to predict the expansion of the Universe. But our understanding of the expansion of the Universe doesn’t just come from studying the CMB, but also from the Hubble Constant.

The Hubble Constant is named after Edwin Hubble, an American astronomer who observed that the expansion velocity of galaxies can be confirmed by their redshift. Hubble also observed Cepheid variable stars, a type of standard candle that gives us reliable measurements of distances between galaxies. Combining the two observations, the velocity and the distance, yielded a measurement for the expansion of the Universe.

So we’ve had two ways to measure the expansion of the Universe, and they mostly agree with each other. There’ve been discrepancies between the two of a few percentage points, but that has been within the realm of measurement errors.

But now something’s changed.

In a new paper, Dr. Adam Riess of Johns Hopkins University, and his team, have reported a more stringent measurement of the expansion of the Universe. Riess and his team used the Hubble Space Telescope to observe 18 standard candles in their host galaxies, and have reduced some of the uncertainty inherent in past studies of standard candles.

The result of this more accurate measurement is that the Hubble constant has been refined. And that, in turn, has increased the difference between the two ways the expansion of the Universe is measured. The gap between what the Hubble constant tells us is the rate of expansion, and what the CMB, as measured by the Planck spacecraft, tells us is the rate of expansion, is now 8%. And 8% is too large a discrepancy to be explained away as measurement error.

The fallout from this is that we may need to revise our standard model of cosmology to account for this, somehow. And right now, we can only guess what might need to be changed. There are at least a couple candidates, though.

It might be centred around Dark Matter, and how it behaves. It’s possible that Dark Matter is affected by a force in the Universe that doesn’t act on anything else. Since so little is known about Dark Matter, and the name itself is little more than a placeholder for something we are almost completely ignorant about, that could be it.

Or, it could be something to do with Dark Energy. Its name, too, is really just a placeholder for something we know almost nothing about. Maybe Dark Energy is not constant, as we have thought, but changes over time to become stronger now than in the past. That could account for the discrepancy.

A third possibility is that standard candles are not the reliable indicators of distance that we thought they were. We’ve refined our measurements of standard candles before, maybe we will again.

Where this all leads is open to speculation at this point. The rate of expansion of the Universe has changed before; about 7.5 billion years ago it accelerated. Maybe it’s changing again, right now in our time. Since Dark Energy occupies so-called empty space, maybe more of it is being created as expansion continues. Maybe we’re reaching another tipping or balancing point.

The only thing certain is that it is a mystery. One that we are driven to understand.

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19 Responses

  1. btraymd says

    The current “standard model” not only needs a re-write, it can be pretty much discarded. It has shown to have little or no predictive value. Current observations constantly contradict the findings predicted by this gravity-based model. It also depends on concepts which have not and cannot be verified such as the singularity, black holes, dark matter and dark energy. None of these theories can be correct given the known laws of physics and scientific observation. All of these concepts are mathematically based conjecture which were created to salvage the failure of gravity to account for star and galaxy formation. Without these concepts, gravity alone has insufficent force to account for galaxy formation (i.e. galaxies would fly apart).
    It is certain that there is another force (or forces) responsible for star and galaxy formation. The recent findings of massive magnetic fields surrounding both galactic centers (black holes) and even the galaxies themselves suggest that electromagnetism may be primarily responsible. “Black holes” have been documented to emit plasma jets as well as massive amounts of EM radiation mainly x rays, gamma rays and most recently visible light.
    We now know for certain that stars (i.e. the sun) are primarily rapidly rotating masses with plasma and massive magnetic fields at the surface. Ibex results published in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement October 2015 confirmed massive rivers of helium flowing into the sun. These currents were confirmed at the interstellar and intergalactic levels. “Star nurseries” have been found to occur along “filaments”. This likely occurs due to constriction of these intergalactic currents (within plasma sheaths) by their magnetic fields.
    Faced with mounting evidence of the predominance of electromagnetic effects, the standard model will certainly need to be wholly reconsidered. The obsession with gravity is responsible for the failure of the current model.

  2. Dark energy and Dark matter are mirages
    http://vixra.org/pdf/1111.0051v6.pdf pp.161–167

    • Member

      I just read all 204 pages of that. I’m convinced. Now go away.

      • Why be so hoggish and have the entire puddle all for oneself and one’s Unquestionable Truth? Giordano Bruno, Galileo and the Inquisition all over again. Insolent and unscientific. Hogs don’t even bother to display any arguments. They just wallow and spatter.

        It’s ever possible that the data are being interpreted inadequately. Maybe ours is just one of numberless throbbing cells within an Infinite Organism, the expansion or diastole is mistakenly thought to have started in no-time and nowhere or everywhere in Infinite Point Density (or something the size of a grape, or whatever they mean by “singularity”) and there’s no beginning or end in either space or time.

        Then there’s the matter of modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND) to explain galactic dynamics without having to invent dark anything.

        Actually, the essential question right now is whether or not Mr. G. Kuznetsov is a relative of economist S.S. Kuznets(ov), who shortened his Russian last name and first developed ways to calculate the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

      • mewo says

        Most of that makes no sense at all.

      • Meow & Borscht, the Dynamic Denial Duo, otherwise known as the Shoo Shut-Uppers or the Go-Away Gang of Two.

      • mewo says

        It’s nice to be appreciated. 🙂

  3. Alkaid says

    If I had to bet, I’d be betting that Dark Energy is not constant. I also have an idea as to why that might be.

    I suspect (but certainly do not know) that black holes are structurally fundamental to the universe as we know it. I suppose that is somewhat true for everything but I’m suggesting it may be more true for the black holes.

    The black holes are ingesting matter and localizing it to an infinitesimal point in space.

    Now remember the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? Yup, the one wherein the more precisely determined the position of a particle is determined, the less precisely its momentum can be known. . .

    So we’ve now got matter which is incredibly localized (although perhaps not infinitely localized) and it could be that something like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle then demands that space-time must expand.

    The upshot is that to some degree feeding black holes could be determining the rate of expansion and may thus be a component of Dark Energy.

    It is unlikely that the average mass ingestion rate of black holes throughout the Universe is uniform over billions of years and this could mean that the Dark Energy driving expansion would not be constant.

    If this speculation is correct, then a component of Dark Energy is not constant and the rate of expansion would be expected to vary over time.

    And no, I do not claim to know to what degree the above is correct. It could be wholly incorrect or it may be that black hole ingestion is the only thing driving expansion for all I know. I don’t have sufficient interest to check to see if there is sufficient data to check on it or to bone up on the Physics and see to what degree it could be true.

    I do have trouble, however, with the idea that Dark Energy is constant. It doesn’t really make sense to me. Dark Matter I suspect will be pretty close to constant.

  4. rjhuntington says

    The entire Standard Model needs to be rethought in light of ample observational evidence falsifying it. Our modern Galileo, the late Halton Arp, by his copious observations and meticulous documentation proved that quasar red shift occurs in discrete predictable steps, not on a smooth continuous scale, which means that red shift cannot be due to cosmic expansion but some other phenomenon.

    Arp also documented the proper motion of quasars. “Proper motion” (as you know) is the apparent motion of a celestial object in front of the background of “fixed” stars. Since all individually visible stars are in this galaxy, so must be the quasars that display proper motion. If they were beyond the visible stars instead of within them, no proper motion would be possible.

    People forget that the “Big Bang” was thought up by Belgian Catholic priest Georges LeMaitre specifically as a modern creation story specifically to conflate science and religion (his admission).

    People also forget that Edwin Hubble said the red-shift interpretation of cosmic expansion was likely wrong and needed to be rethought.

    And people forget that Albert Einstein said that black hole are mathematical entities only and cannot be physically manifest.

    I pose this question: Why do astronomers and astrophysicists regard the enormous magnetic fields around stars and in interstellar and intergalactic space but never mention the commensurately enormous electric currents that must exist to give rise the the magnetic fields. The physical facts that magnetic fields are the result of electric currents and that electromagnetism is 39 orders of magnitude more powerful than gravity strongly suggest that gravity is not the predominant formative force in cosmology.

    These realities need to be considered in formulating a new cosmology to replace the failed current Standard Model. It seems likely that CMB data have been misinterpreted. It won’t be the first time in history that just about everyone was wrong, but in order to move our understanding ahead, we must be daring enough to take that step to rethink it all.

    • mewo says

      >Our modern Galileo, the late Halton Arp, by his copious observations and meticulous documentation proved that quasar red shift occurs in discrete predictable steps, not on a smooth continuous scale, which means that red shift cannot be due to cosmic expansion but some other phenomenon.

      Better observations with better telescopes have completely ruled out the possibility that quasar redshift is either discretized or periodic, or that they have measurable proper motions. Halton Arp was quite simply wrong about this. Quasars really are very distant. Please acquaint yourself with advances in astronomy made since about 1965.

      >People forget that the “Big Bang” was thought up by Belgian Catholic priest Georges LeMaitre specifically as a modern creation story specifically to conflate science and religion (his admission).

      That’s a rather mendacious and self-serving misinterpretation, and you seem to be forgetting that LeMaitre was neither the first, nor the only, person to postulate a beginning to the Universe.

      >People also forget that Edwin Hubble said the red-shift interpretation of cosmic expansion was likely wrong and needed to be rethought.

      Well, we’ve directly observed it, so if Hubble said that then he was wrong.

      >And people forget that Albert Einstein said that black hole are mathematical entities only and cannot be physically manifest.

      Well, we’ve directly observed them, so if Einstein really said that then he was wrong.

      Seriously, misquoting illustrious dead scientists as some kind of misguided appeal to authority makes you sound desperate.

      >It seems likely that CMB data have been misinterpreted.

      In what way? Please provide more than “I don’t like the results so they must be wrong”

      >Why do astronomers and astrophysicists regard the enormous magnetic fields around stars and in interstellar and intergalactic space but never mention the commensurately enormous electric currents that must exist to give rise the the magnetic fields.

      What, in your opinion, powers these immense electric currents? Giant invisible dynamos in the sky? Where are they lurking? Why have no astronomers ever seen anything that could be interpreted as the source of these fictitious currents?

      > It won’t be the first time in history that just about everyone was wrong, but in order to move our understanding ahead, we must be daring enough to take that step to rethink it all.

      We may, at some point in the future, need to overthrow the current paradigm. But what is certain is that it will not be replaced by the Electric Universe nutballery or any variation thereof. The reason is that EU not only fails to predict the stuff we don’t understand well yet, it also fails boneheadedly at explaining things that we *do* understand well. Where are the EU explanations for, e.g, Solar neutrinos, gravitational lensing, the recent LIGO detection of gravitational waves, or the spindown of the Hulse-Taylor pulsar system? These are phenomena that modern science understands well, but which the EU system predicts shouldn’t even *exist*, much less correctly calculate the specifics details. Get the basics right before you start making pronouncements about what is so far poorly understood.

      • rjhuntington says

        There has NEVER been any direct observation of any “black hole” and your assertion that there has been completely undermines anything else you had to say.

        In any event, Arp’s observations are valid, despite attempts to discredit his valuable contribution to the science.

      • Qev says

        So… what makes the observations that gainsay Arp’s conclusions any less valid?

      • mewo says

        I’m happy to accept the LIGO detection as a direct observation. But that’s because I understand the science.

        Less happy to accept you blatantly lying about, for instance, LeMaitre. He took pains to keep the Big bang hypothesis separate from his religious views, consistently said that the idea was “neutral” with regards to religion and was vocally disappointed when the Pope at that time tried to annex the idea as support for Catholicism.

        Yet here you are, falsely claiming that he thought up the idea to bolster his religious views “by his own admission”. His actual views were kinda the exact opposite of that, as anyone can verify for themselves with a quick glance at his Wikipedia page.

        Why would you even think you could lie about this and not get caught?

      • btraymd says

        Mewo you are incapable of considering any thing but the “party line” put out by the establishment (i.e. the entrenched self serving few that stand to lose funding and reputation). I can’t believe that anyone can accept as fact the mathematical conjecture that spawned black holes, neutron stars. dark matter and the whole gravity based theory of cosmology called the “standard model”.
        Recent advances in radio telescope technology have accessed data that contradicts every basic premise of the standard model.
        Yet the desire to preserve this model gets stronger and more bizarre with every observed contradiction.
        A recent example of this is the detection of “gravitational waves’ by LIGO. They never explained the nature of a gravitational wave. This of course would require an exact definition of the nature of gravity which is also missing. What they detected was an increased propagation of light, attributed to “gravitational waves”. To think that gravity can influence the propagation of electromagnetic energy shows a complete lack of common sense. Just as it would be ludicrous to suggest that gravity influences lightening here on earth. The magnitude of the forces excludes the possibility. It’s like comparing a feather falling to earth with an atomic explosion.
        You are sadly mistaken to state that there have been any observations which CONFIRM the theories of singularities, accretion discs, black holes, neutron stars, dark matter. dark energy or stellar em radiation emitted due to nuclear fusion in the core. None of these concepts have met the requirements to be considered factual. No observation or experimental validation…..just mathematical conjecture proposed as salvage for the standard model when contradicted by recent observations.
        There has been convincing data recently acquired that supports Arp’s work on redshift as detailed in his book, Seeing Red. The recent data showing the presence of quasars physically present in the same galaxy with markedly different red shifts was clear cut. This finding supported that red shift is an intrinsic property based on age and is not distance or velocity related. Carl Sagan said publicly that if Arp’s work was confirmed it would invalidate the Big Bang Theory. Arp was a first class astronomer who studied under Edwin Hubble at the Max Planck Institute. His work was so threatening to the “establishment” and their standard model that he was ostracized and ridiculed. This was similar to the treatment of Gallileo by the Catholic Church which would have put him to death if he had not backed off of his heretical theories. The recent data confirming Arp’s findings is being predictably ignored.
        I don’t pretend to know everything. For example, you have stated the presence of neutrinos as proof of the current solar model. Where these neutrinos come from I truly do not know. But there are countless possibilities that do not require nuclear explosions in the core of the sun. This observation however doesn’t override the overwhelming evidence recently obtained which supports the electromagnetic nature of stars (i.e. the sun). First, just consider what we have actually observed and measured. The surface consists of rapidly rotating plasma accompanied by massive magnetic fields. The surface temperature is 5k degrees while the corona 1 mile above the surface is 2 million degrees. A core source of heat cannot account for these facts without straining credulity and ignoring common sense. Even more convincing is the infrared data obtained from within the penumbra. Looking into the center of these “sunspots” revealed a dark, cool interior. Putting all of this together points to the sun surface as the source of it’s em radiation. Measuring the acceleration of charged particles as they approach earth confirms that they are primarily influenced by an electromagnetic field. This field has been measured by the IBEX mission in addition to massive interstellar and intergalactic currents of charged particles ( Helium, as reported in the Astrophysical Journal Oct 2015 Supplement).
        If you agree to eliminate all of the unproven concepts from the current standard model, what is left?? Almost nothing. It is not surprising that the model has shown almost no predictive value. No wonder it requires the known laws of physics to breakdown and be abandoned. It follows that it results in a total lack of understanding of the observable universe. None of it’s concepts make common sense except to the theoretical mathematicians that proposed them.
        It is way past time to at least consider a different viewpoint that follows the scientific principles of observation and experimental validation. There is absolutely nothing to lose with this course of action.

  5. metalman_5150 says

    >And people forget that Albert Einstein said that black hole are mathematical entities only and cannot be physically manifest.

    Well, we’ve directly observed them, so if Einstein really said that then he was wrong.
    ——
    Direct observation of a black hole has NEVER been documented or noted; only inferred!!!!
    Only the effects……………. of a ‘blackk hole’s’ “properties” have been observed.

  6. Member
    Aqua4U says

    Latest news eh? Then why didn’t you use the latest CMB mapping from Planck? The WMAP image above lacks the detail Planck revealed including mysterious but obvious ‘cold spots’ which shouldn’t, in the Standard model, be there.

    From ESA: “ESA’s Planck was launched in 2009 to study the CMB in even greater detail than ever before. It covers a wider frequency range in more bands and at higher sensitivity than WMAP, making it possible to make a much more accurate separation of all of the components of the submillimetre and microwave wavelength sky, including many foreground sources such as the emission from our own Milky Way Galaxy. This thorough picture thus reveals the CMB and its tiny fluctuations in much greater detail and precision than previously achieved. The aim of Planck is to use this greater sensitivity to prove the standard model of cosmology beyond doubt or, more enticingly, to search for deviations from the model which might reflect new physics beyond it.”

    http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Planck/Planck_and_the_cosmic_microwave_background

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