“Researchers argue that it’s of utmost importance to unravel the nature of black holes, lest we someday begin to worship them,” said Harvard astrophysicist, Eric Chaisson. In April 2019 an event took place that was as epic as the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, and may make Chaisson’s warning seem prescient.
Scientists have known for almost a century that the universe is expanding, meaning the distance between galaxies across the universe is becoming ever more vast every second. But exactly how fast space is stretching, a value known as the Hubble constant, has remained stubbornly elusive. Several recent studies that point to a nagging discrepancy between modern expansion measurements and predictions based on the universe as it was more than 13 billion years ago, as measured by the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite.
“The Hubble tension between the early and late universe may be the most exciting development in cosmology in decades,” said lead researcher and Nobel laureate Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and Johns Hopkins University, about new Hubble Space Telescope data that suggest a faster expansion rate in the modern universe than expected, based on how the universe appeared more than 13 billion years ago strengthening the case that new theories may be needed to explain the forces that have shaped the cosmos.
“I don’t know how anyone can see the Hubble ‘Deep Field’ image and not feel like something else is going about its business out there,” writes Tracy K. Smith, U.S. poet laureate, whose father was an engineer on the Hubble Space Telescope.