Hubble Rules Out One Alternative to Dark Energy


From a NASA press release:

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have ruled out an alternate theory on the nature of dark energy after recalculating the expansion rate of the universe to unprecedented accuracy.

The universe appears to be expanding at an increasing rate. Some believe that is because the universe is filled with a dark energy that works in the opposite way of gravity. One alternative to that hypothesis is that an enormous bubble of relatively empty space eight billion light-years across surrounds our galactic neighborhood. If we lived near the center of this void, observations of galaxies being pushed away from each other at accelerating speeds would be an illusion.

This hypothesis has been invalidated because astronomers have refined their understanding of the universe’s present expansion rate. Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., led the research. The Hubble observations were conducted by the SHOES (Supernova H0 for the Equation of State) team that works to refine the accuracy of the Hubble constant to a precision that allows for a better characterization of dark energy’s behavior. The observations helped determine a figure for the universe’s current expansion rate to an uncertainty of just 3.3 percent. The new measurement reduces the error margin by 30 percent over Hubble’s previous best measurement in 2009. Riess’s results appear in the April 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

“We are using the new camera on Hubble like a policeman’s radar gun to catch the universe speeding,” Riess said. “It looks more like it’s dark energy that’s pressing the gas pedal.”

Riess’ team first had to determine accurate distances to galaxies near and far from Earth. The team compared those distances with the speed at which the galaxies are apparently receding because of the expansion of space. They used those two values to calculate the Hubble constant, the number that relates the speed at which a galaxy appears to recede to its distance from the Milky Way. Because astronomers cannot physically measure the distances to galaxies, researchers had to find stars or other objects that serve as reliable cosmic yardsticks. These are objects with an intrinsic brightness, brightness that hasn’t been dimmed by distance, an atmosphere, or stellar dust, that is known. Their distances, therefore, can be inferred by comparing their true brightness with their apparent brightness as seen from Earth.

To calculate longer distances, Riess’ team chose a special class of exploding stars called Type 1a supernovae. These stellar explosions all flare with similar luminosity and are brilliant enough to be seen far across the universe. By comparing the apparent brightness of Type 1a supernovae and pulsating Cepheid stars, the astronomers could measure accurately their intrinsic brightness and therefore calculate distances to Type Ia supernovae in far-flung galaxies.

Using the sharpness of the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) to study more stars in visible and near-infrared light, scientists eliminated systematic errors introduced by comparing measurements from different telescopes.

“WFC3 is the best camera ever flown on Hubble for making these measurements, improving the precision of prior measurements in a small fraction of the time it previously took,” said Lucas Macri, a collaborator on the SHOES Team from Texas A&M in College Station.

Knowing the precise value of the universe’s expansion rate further restricts the range of dark energy’s strength and helps astronomers tighten up their estimates of other cosmic properties, including the universe’s shape and its roster of neutrinos, or ghostly particles, that filled the early universe.

“Thomas Edison once said ‘every wrong attempt discarded is a step forward,’ and this principle still governs how scientists approach the mysteries of the cosmos,” said Jon Morse, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “By falsifying the bubble hypothesis of the accelerating expansion, NASA missions like Hubble bring us closer to the ultimate goal of understanding this remarkable property of our universe.”

Science Paper by: Adam G. Riess et al. (PDF document)

44 Replies to “Hubble Rules Out One Alternative to Dark Energy”

  1. The additional information on the given question

    To complete this section, it is necessary to mention an example of global antigravitation repulsion on the scale of the universe which is experimentally detected as the effect of accelerated recessions of the galaxies [47]. It has been suggested in astrophysics that this effect can be explained only by the effect of antigravitation, but it is erroneously assumed that the centre of the universe contains a large quantity of hidden minus mass. As already mentioned, the effect of antigravitation should not be linked unavoidably with the presence of the minus mass, and it is sufficient to form the direction of the deformation vector D as a result of the redistribution of the quantum density of the medium.

    This model of the universe with the cyclic redistribution of the quantum density of the medium whose gradient determines the direction of the deformation vector and forces in the region with a lower quantum density of the medium, was proposed as early as in 1996 [5, 6]. Figure 3.20a shows the model of a closed universe in the form of a spherical shell of a specific thickness filled with an elastic quantised medium. Inside and outside there is emptiness (or something we know nothing about). This shell has the form of a volume resonator with the oscillations of the quantum density of the medium which is cyclically distributed from the internal interface to the periphery, and vice versa. The distribution of the quantum density of the medium inside the shell in the region A at some specific moment of the oscillation period is shown in Fig. 3.20b. It may be seen that the gradient of the quantum density of the medium which determines the direction of the effect of the vector D and forces F is directed to the periphery and prevents accelerated recession of the galaxies.

    In all likelihood, the period of natural oscillations of the universe, linked with the cyclic redistribution of quantum density of the medium in the thickness of the shell, can be expressed in tens of billions of years. It may be predicted that after one billion years, the redistribution of the quantum density of the medium in the shell of the universe changes to the opposite. In this case, the galaxies start to move in accelerated fashion to the internal interface of the universe. I do not present here the results of calculations of the cyclic oscillations of the quantum density of the medium in the shell model of the universe because this is the area of work of professional astrophysicists, like the investigations of black holes (Fig. 3.12).

    From the book Leonov V. S. Quantum Energetics. Volume 1. Theory of Superunification. Cambridge International Science Publishing, 2010, pp. 248-252.

      1. I have developed ideas of Einstein. The theory of Superunification is based on new fundamental discoveries of quantum of space-time (quanton) and super-strong electromagnetic interaction (SEI). Einstein laid the foundations of gravitation as the properties of distortion of the space-time. It was a correct direction in a science. Gravitation appears in the quantised space-time as a result of its spherical deformation in the formation of the mass of elementary particles. Thus, the nature of formation of mass by the particles is connected with the spherical deformation of the quantised space-time.
        The sirs Myron Evans and Stephen Crothers are on opposite positions. It is their right. I do not agree with them. Publishing it is business. Apparently books of Myron Evans and Stephen Crothers are bought.

      2. I don’t agree with your attitude towards alternative ideas as it is stifling future and possibly important mind sets. Just remember that order is an inherent part of chaos. Whether or not you see it.

        As an extreme example Einstein did not receive the Nobel prize for the most important theory in human history because of narrow short sightedness.

      3. As Einstein said: “”You can never solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created the problem in the first place”

        Or as Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Don’t go where the path leads. Rather go where there is no path and leave a trail.”

      4. “I don’t agree with your attitude towards alternative ideas as it is stifling future and possibly important mind sets.”

        TT, I have no problems with VL and his Theory of Superunification. He’s entitled to believe what he wants. My concern was with UT policy wrt posting *personal theories*.

        If I am in error or if this policy no longer exists, my apologies to all concerned.

        (He he, I see the linked site has articles on new evidence FOR creation science & cold fusion. Quite a few “alternative ideas”.)

      5. Actually we might have a copyright violation. The post is basically a copy and past directly from a book.

        I did not have time to check Vladimir his post but I do have the impression that it is not really science based just wild guesses strung together to make something sound cool. I want to see some maths.

      6. The first clue to any pseudo-science is always a lot of wordplay with scientific terms and then a link to some web site and/or book. They are trying to avoid peer review and try to influence people directly by pretending it is scientific.

        So Lets peer review Vladimirs claims. 😉

      7. The theory of Superunification includes some thousand new mathematical formulas and has 745 pages. I advise to read this the theory.

        Leonov V. S. Quantum Energetics. Volume 1. Theory of Superunification. Cambridge International Science Publishing, 2010, 745 pages

        Quantum energetics is based on new fundamental discoveries of quantum of space-time (quanton) and super-strong electromagnetic interaction (SEI) made by Vladimir Leonov in 1996. On the basis of new fundamental discoveries the theory of Superunification of fundamental interactions of electromagnetism, gravitation, nuclear and electro-weak forces is completed. It is important that new fundamental discoveries have the widest practical application in the development of quantum energetics. It is discovered that the single source of energy in the Universe is the quanton in the structure of quantized space-time, which is the carrier of super-strong interaction (SEI). All known methods of energy generation (chemical and nuclear reactionsm etc.) are redued to the release and transformation of SEI energy. Quantum energetics is a more general concept in energetics, which includes both the new energetic cycles, and traditional ones, including nuclear energetics.

    1. Yet another nitwit!
      Argue science from what we know, not from what we don’t know.

      Most of what is written here is pure pseudoscience based on wild speculation.

      Dark matter and dark energy are attempts to explain the observations. Concepts like “the period of natural oscillations of the universe,…” are nonsense, because their is no observational evidence to support it.

      1. “At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes—an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense. ” — Carl Sagan

        “Cosmology was thought of as a pseudoscience where wild speculation was unconstrained by any possible observations” – Stephen Hawkings (ref)

      2. There are no absolutes, accept that some day we each of us will die and that is a scientific fact. The rest is a maybe. There is no absolute right or wrong but everything is necessary. That is why all science started with an idea.

        Wild ideas may trigger someone else into a breakthrough.

        Please don’t discourage the wacky. Just don’t read it if you decide to. That is your democratic freedom of choice..

      3. There is nothing worst in this world than a patronising lowlife. I read what I like, I comment on what I like. Don’t like it. Tough luck!
        The only absolute idea here is that you should just mind your own business.
        Really. What a pratt! 🙁

      4. Your rudeness and insulting comments reflect badly on Universe Today, who deserve the utmost respect for giving you and the rest of us, an opportunity to have a voice.

      5. Oh dear. Two days have passed and that’s your best comeback!
        BTW, just in case you missed it, it is actually spelt salacious.
        Toddles and adieu…

  2. Why is Dark Energy so-called? It often seems to be described as a counterpart to gravity which is usually described as a force. Wouldn’t Dark Force be more appropriate?

  3. Thanks for that, so basically “dark energy” as a term is derived from the term “vacuum energy”.

    1. It is about 99% likely that dark energy is vacuum energy. The question of what is dark energy then amounts to finding the quantum states or quantum fields of the universe.


      1. You are right. The vacuum energy has huge energy.
        It follows from the theory of Superunification. The deeper the researcher penetrates into the depth of material, the higher the energy concentration which must be taken into. It would seem that science penetrated into the region of nuclear forces at distances of the order of 10 (in a degree minus -15) m and encountered the colossal concentration of energy. Now science has penetrated into the region of quantons at distances of 10 (in a degree minus -25) m and detected the monstrous concentration of energy which is evaluated by the gigantic value of the order of 10 (in a degree 73) J/m3. If we activate only one cubic meter of the quantised space-time, then the freed energy is sufficient for generating one additional material universe as a result of a Bing Bang large from the singular state. Now the Big Bang hypothesis is substantiated from the viewpoint of energy substantiation but is it this only a hypothesis.

      2. Yes of course it is only potential energy because we are all part of it. To access this energy to do work, we need a potential difference. So we would need access outside our event horizon to measure the differential.

    2. Not quite, it is all separable:

      – “Dark energy” is a term analogous to dark matter, since it is a matter-energy density that has no readily visible source.

      – The cosmological constant is a natural hypothesis for the term, and testing it is fairly successful – dark energy appears as a constant energy density in the standard cosmology, and I believe also fairly constant independent of it.

      – Vacuum energy is a natural hypothesis predicting a cosmological constant, and would also fulfill predictions of various field theories of zero point energies.

      If you like new physics this is unfortunately the mundane set of predictions. The only hopeful thing is that the vacuum energy is so low. That at least points to string theory, multiverses and all sorts of semi-mundane things.

      Dark matter may be much more exciting…

      1. It is my thinking that the problem of dark energy, beyond the fairly heuristic notion of vacuum energy,” is that this requires some understanding of the quantum eigenstates of the universe. This of course touches on the whole multi-verse construction. This is an interesting thing to play with. It also suggests something is funny with our scientific paradigm. We normally have in science the idea that we can prepare experiments with various initial or boundary conditions. The theory then predicts some constant process which is transformed by those initial or boundary conditions, but not removed by them. With the universe we have in effect one grand scattering experiment. We also did not set it up. As such we have no ability to “prepare” systems to test theories, and further we have an ambiguity over what represents initial or boundary conditions and what represents fundamental principles. The current issue over why the universe started out with such low entropy is potentially of this nature.

        The same would hold for the quantum states of the universe. Quantum mechanics is empirically understood as a statistical theory. This implies an observer has an ensemble of possible systems to test. Clearly we have only one observable universe. There is maybe a prospect for the detection of other cosmologies based on vacuum fluctuations, but we could never get information from them. What is interesting is that this situation is similar to the GHZ quantum state, which in one experiment gives the Bell inequality violations. No statistics. These types of entangled states have correlations with black hole BPS types and AdS physics. So we might have through quantum mechanics and quantum gravity a new type of scientific thinking here.


      2. I shall agree with Lawrence provided that Einstein was right.
        “God does not roll dice with the Universe” – A. Einstein.

      3. Ambiguities, duly noted. But I also note that there are circumstances where this is sorted out without having to ponder about, say, the nature of time. Environmental selection likely tells us that we exist in a universe with causality, because there is were the action is [sic!].

        It could be that it is too difficult to sort out remaining dependencies in physics from the start. Those can latch in later if they are there and contribute. For example, even if you accept Boussou et al predictions for the multiverse, they can tell you that the cc is fairly minimized but not why the value of the cosmological constant is what it is. But IIRC, years before the current research string theorists predicted there could be only so many values (from the way dimensions compactify), and that if there is a selection rule or more mundane a process over multiverses that will tend toward minimum energy it would lie around the observed value of the cc.

        Maybe related to classical ambiguities; they seem to transfer to ambiguities over statistics of multiverses in the selection case.

        There is maybe a prospect for the detection of other cosmologies based on vacuum fluctuations, but we could never get information from them.

        True in general, AFAIU.

        I believe the work on colliding multiverses that Carroll had a guest blogger describing may, if realizable, provide information both on general properties allowing an observable collision but perhaps also properties of the multiverse instances involved.

        What is interesting is that this situation is similar to the GHZ quantum state, which in one experiment gives the Bell inequality violations. No statistics.

        I know way too little about these experiments, so excuse my most likely confused observations here. Thus: I thought the non-statistical selection in that type of experiment came from constraints that the experiment put on the wavefunctions during the experiment.

        Which sounds like an analogy. But also, in my mind at least, should point to how selection removes ambiguity by paring down possible pathways. (So the paring down of the set of potentially observed outcomes is coincidental to the selection, not the main effect.)

      4. The dark matter is a small share of the latent matter of quantized space-time.
        The latent matter represents the energy of vacuum with concentration of the order of 10 (in a degree 73) J/m3. It is gigantic value of concentration of energy. If we activate only one cubic meter of the quantised space-time, then the freed energy is sufficient for generating one additional material universe as a result of a Bing Bang large from the singular state.

  4. Dark energy in classical gravitation or general relativity is due to the negative pressure density of a vacuum, p, where that vacuum has an energy density E. This means in naturalized units that p = -E. This is the de Sitter spacetime solution of the Einstein field equations.

    The observable universe is approximately de Sitter, where the presence of ordinary matter perturbs this some. As a result this outwards pressure did not dominate the spacetime configuration until around 3 to 4 billion years ago. Observations of distant supernova SNI clearly indicate this.

    The question of course is then, “What is the source of the vacuum energy density?” It is this vacuum energy which is labeled as dark energy. This is most likely due to the quantum vacuum state of the universe. However, at this time we are not sure of this. The cosmological constant, denoted by “Lambda” /\, determines the Hubble parameter, called H, at any given time as

    H^2 = (a’/a)^2 = 8pi G/\/3,

    where a is the scale factor for the expansion of space with time a = a(t), and a’ is the time derivative (a velocity so to speak) of a. The cosmological constant is about 10^{-54}cm^{-2}, which is very small. So there is some very small vacuum energy density due to the configuration of quantum fields in the universe which determines that. This is the main question with the nature of dark energy.


  5. My personal unscientific theory is that gravity breaks down at large distances the same way that it does at the very small. I believe that once we unify General Relativity with quantum physics the resulting mathematical equations will do away with the need for dark matter and dark energy.

    There is a chance that the astro-physicists solve the problem first. There are some very interesting papers on Alternative Gravitation Theory, and I believe it’s call “ANG” or” Alternative Newtonian Gravitation.” I feel that the odds on one of these or a similar theory being discovered and proven first to be highly unlikely given the LHC and the fact that particle physicists have been chasing this problem for much longer.

    I apologize for not providing links but I am on my BlackBerry which doesn’t lend its self to easy google & wikipedia searches.

    1. Good luck with that, the standard cosmology is _the_ verification of GR at large volumes, and IIRC it has been possible to verify GR further out than any other physics.

      Nitpick: We don’t know that GR breaks down for small volumes, it is assumed.

    2. Finally a quite honest, sensible and well thought out speculative comment.

      I congratulate you sir, and hope the anti-science and pseudoscience lot take particular note.

      1. @Torbjorn
        I meant to say “galactic” distances. GR does work very, very well at large distances.

        Thank you very much for the compliment coming from you that is high praise indeed.

    3. The scientific program of researches on LHC should be changed. It is necessary to refuse from SUSY and Higgs boson. Their searches can go indefinitely and without results. It is empty expenditure of money. Higgs’s particles cannot be discovered in the experiment in the collider since they simply do not exist in nature.

      The theory of Superunification can rescue LHC. Now it is important to define with high accuracy energy of disintegration of a proton.

    4. There is MOdified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND), which is a phenomenological approach that modifies the 1/r^2 law of gravity to something that has a complex dependence on acceleration and distance. The problem is this can’t be made to work as a consistent theory on its own. There are tensor versions of this as well, which do not work as a fundamental theory. MOND has been ruled out as a fundamental theory.


  6. Fascinating. Thanks for the breakdown explanation of vacuum energy LC, Torbjorn, Hon.,

    LC, are you saying that it is impossible to create fully constrained testing environments since we are only able to operate within the bounds of our singular visible Universe?

    1. I am not sure what “fully constrained” means (a TOE for _exactly_ everything? 😉 ), but people have been able to come up with testable predictions, see my previous comment and the link there (describing some of the current research on testing for multiverses).

      1. There are two possible levels of the multi-verse. One involves regions in spacetime where the vacuum configuration (its energy density, symmetry and symmetry breaking etc) has assumed a particular value. The other is that this spacetime may be associated with a Dp-brane connected by IIa or IIb strings in a lamination or stack. So there may be another level up here. Now in both cases the different worlds, cosmologies or “universes” are not perfectly segregated from each other. There are quantum correlations or entanglements between them. So there may be subtle signatures of these The data interpretation by Johnson and his crew of an interaction between two bubble nucleations or pocket universes in the de Sitter spacetime of inflation is one possible observation of the multi-verse on that level. Future physics experiments with the fluctuation of spacetime itself might give clues to the Dp-brane level of multiverse


  7. The negative pressure due to the vacuum energy in the universe is a form of the Casimir effect.

    Science is based on the notion of repeatable experiments and observations. With cosmology we can only observe directly one. If we push experimental physics far enough we might be able to detect signatures of other cosmologies in the vacuum fluctuations of spacetime. We are probably quite far from that ability. So we have one scattering amplitude we may directly observe, which is the big bang and the secondary products of that event we see as the CMB galaxies etc. This suggests there is a new paradigm for science itself here.


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