Let’s Slow This Thing Down A Little Bit…

The universe that is. According to a Peter A. Milne of the University of Arizona, the standard for measuring universe acceleration, the type 1A supernova, is not quite as standard as they initially thought. There are at least two types of type 1A supernova detected in the recently accumulated data.

Apparently the trick, the key to the new data was looking at the supervovae in ultraviolet light. There is a different aspect noticed between ultraviolet and visible light. They detected this difference with data from Swift, NASA’s orbital satellite with ultraviolet detectors, and compared them to observations from Hubbles visible light observations. The difference appears to be, and I’ll quote the source, first with our old data:

“The faraway supernovae should be like the ones nearby because they look like them, but because they’re fainter than expected, it led people to conclude they’re farther away than expected, and this in turn has led to the conclusion that the universe is expanding faster than it did in the past.”

Then with the new data:

“As you’re going back in time, we see a change in the supernovae population,” he added. “The explosion has something different about it, something that doesn’t jump out at you when you look at it in optical light, but we see it in the ultraviolet.

“Since nobody realized that before, all these supernovae were thrown in the same barrel. But if you were to look at 10 of them nearby, those 10 are going to be redder on average than a sample of 10 faraway supernovae. (edit: Referring to red shift/blue shift, basically red shift means it is moving away from us and blue shift moving towards us. There are  numerical increments that determine how far away an object is based upon its brightness. Which means we were getting false assumptions because of wrongly expecting the supernovae were very similar)

The authors conclude that some of the reported acceleration of the universe can be explained by color differences between the two groups of supernovae, leaving less acceleration than initially reported. This would, in turn, require less dark energy than currently assumed.” (end quote)

What this all amounts to is, the universe while it is still expanding, may be expanding slower than we thought. They still have to crunch the numbers to see how much slower we are talking about. It also means we might get closer to understanding the amount of dark matter there is out there. As I understand it, with the previous observational data, there is too much dark matter to accurately account for. This finding could help resolve that issue. Which is cool, I’m always happy to see a missing piece of a puzzle fall into place. Especially when that piece gets us closer to understanding the things we don’t yet know. I came across this story @ Science Daily but the original source is here:


15 thoughts on “Let’s Slow This Thing Down A Little Bit…

  1. This could be a game changer. New standards means everything has to be recalculated.


    • Indeed. I am hoping this puts the dark matter issue in a better place. At least as far as how much of it is actually out there. Having loose ends that don’t add up is irritating, and target practice for science denying blowhards. Not that they are very good at hitting anything… but still.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I like the idea that we are still learning. The fact that our measuring stick was wrong and everyone seemed to accept it is a measure of how little we investigate the claims and discoveries we derive so much benefit from. This shows us that the game of astronomy and theoretical physics is still open to those who can think. We need to encourage those thinkers and the technicians who labor day and night to capture the most minute details so that we can find out what the universe is really like.

        We do not do enough to encourage children to fill those shoes in the coming years and we do so at our peril.

        We need society to see this not as a failure of past scientists but more like the underdogs coming up from behind to win the day.


        • I live to learn. I love to learn. I also teach my kids to learn. they don’t know it yet, it is sort of a secret, but you can lead by example.

          We just had someone give us two video cameras, one working, one toast. They just had no more use for them. I took the toasted one apart (cuz I’m just like that) and snagged the lens from it. It makes a fanatasic loupe, I’d estimate 25-30x power. We all spent time looking at our hands, and fingernails, even some paper. You could see the cross hatch design deep in the paper. There is awe everywhere you look, you just have to be paying attention. I try to never miss an opportunity to teach my kids, or any strays that might be hanging out. 🙂

          I’d venture that yes we were investigating, only using the data we had at the time. The data is the key. The investigation, thanks to all that is fine and good in this universe, is still ongoing. 🙂 🙂

          Yes we used the standard we had for quite some time, we apparently now have a new standard. When we gain more data and more understanding, that standard will be refined. I often mention that the one thing, the biggest reason for living besides my family, and the beauty of nature, is the simple awe of discovery. Those are the things I will miss when my clock runs out.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember reading somewhere once that scientists predicted that if the universe were just a simulation, stuff like this would eventually happen (two identical things having two different values). Of course I’m not sure that I buy that, but it’s food for thought.


    • Ok, great. I have been racking my brain with the whole free will/ determinism/ compatibilism thing over at Mak’s blog, and now you drop something like this in my lap!

      If this is a simulation, can we get off at the next stop?

      …but, the thing is, here we have what appeared to be identical things, turning out not to be identical. Rather than identical things having different values… At least as it stands right now, hell in two weeks this whole thing could change with new data.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol, well I’m not completely sold on it. I tend to put more stock in the scenario that they aren’t and never were two identical things. I mean, when we’re talking about stuff that’s super far away, there are limits to what can be observed until technology progresses. You just struck a chord in the back of my mind is all :p


        • I have always wondered just a bit how two supernova could be identical, with so many possible variables involved. Such as the mass, and distance, of the stars. The composition of the stars. And the age of the stars. I guess it must be a standard with certain parameters. Or just close enough that there is no sense in splitting hairs between two exposions that despite being somewhat different, will still put out a light source so close in proximity to each other there is no observable difference. I guess I could Google it, but I haven’t yet. Hell I’ve been in this chair too long already today, gotta get up and move around. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent post. The dark matter scientists speak of floats about in my toilet after I have discussions on free will/determinism. Odd, ain’t it? 🙂


  4. Great post shell. Hope you’ve been well! Fatherhood has made time on here sparse, but am trying to do a little more writing! I thought one of the reasons that dark matter (and perhaps thus a slower expansion speed) is that it gives more hope on the Oscillating Theory that the universe might eventually collapse in on itself. Scientists said originally that there is a critical density in the universe that once we go below that, gravitational forces would never be strong enough to collapse the universe and we have gone past that density. But dark matter changes the mass density in the universe significantly. I like the idea of it collapsing and starting all over again. 🙂


    • Good to see you again Swarn!

      There is something satisfying in that theory, that is a rebirth, a new beginning. I’d prefer that to the big chill, or the big rip. It just follows the nature of things as we know them, which seems eloquent in a sense.

      But who knows? Another one of those questions I’ll not know the answer to before my number is up. As fathers though, we have already inspired new beginnings of our own. 🙂 So it would be satisfying in some sense, as I mentioned before, to see that all we know as the universe begins anew as well.


  5. Very interesting, thank you! I have also been speculating upon the relationship of space to matter. We have an indication that starts farther away are accelerating which was nonsensical under current theory. First we challenged the data, but you thread above indicates we didn’t do that as well as we thought.

    Now we find out that space-time can have ripples in it and not just depressions due to embedded masses. So, the relationship of space-time to matter is what. exactly. If space-time were entering a retraction phase toward the edge of the universe, because who the Hell knows (It is elastic!), would that then not give the appearance that objects were moving faster where the contraction is going on? “Space” does not appear to be empty, can it be under the influence of other universes in a multi-verse manifold (maybe they are starting to crowd one another)?

    More than likely we ran away with this topic a bit (dark matter, dark energy) rather than dug into the data to confirm a rather startling observation.


    • All I can relate about space time is, if you have enough matter it will gravitationally warp the space/time around it, causing our old 2 D assumptions to be out of whack. I assume understanding these discrepencies is quite important for NASA, or physicists in general.

      If I am following you, (and Ill admit I am too easily confused lol) you are referring to the “Big Crunch” scenario, where it is supposed that our expanding universe will eventually run out of steam and collapse back in upon itself.

      I would think if this were to happen, that matter at the edge of the universe (if there is even such a thing, it seems logical) turned back, that it would be like a moving ball at the end of a rubberband in slow mo. It would slow, stop for the briefest of moments, and then suddenly retreat. I could see how if this was happening, and we were measuring it, it would look like the matter had slowed up* just before it stopped its outward expansion, (while still being detected as redshifted) causing us to interpret the data as a slowing process.

      Now if the matter (galaxies/stars) had slowed/stopped and were now retreating, they would show up as blueshift instead of redshift. If all of the furthest things we could detect suddenly changed their ways and blue shifted, that would be quite the fearsome surprise!

      I’d also assume in that scenario that the further the universe retreated, and matter begins to get more closely condensed, the gravity interactions of all that matter would at some point increase the retreat. Things would also get a tad warmer.

      Oh, I thought the current theory is that the universe is expanding, and also accelerating?

      If I happen to be out in left field here, and it wouldn’t be the first time, please let me know 😉

      * And Im going to go all History Channel here, could this be the beginning of the end?!


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