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Humanity “seriously wrong” according to James Webb Space telescope

  • March 22, 2024
  • 2 min read
Humanity “seriously wrong” according to James Webb Space telescope

Since the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched in December 2021, it has given us some amazing images of the universe. Now, it has made some ground-breaking discoveries that could show that our theories about how the universe works could be “seriously wrong” in a study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Last year, JWST confirmed the initial measurements made by Hubble in 2019 to measure the speed with which the universe expands.  The Hubble tension, a constant value, looks at the universe’s expansion rate. There are two methods to measure it.

The first method uses the leftovers from the Big Bang. These are small fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background radiation. The second is using pulsating stars, known as the Cepheid variables, using their outer layer to measure their brightness.

Between 2009 and 2013, astronomers realised that the first method gave a figure of 46,200 mph per million light years or around 67 kilometres per second per megaparsec (km/s/sMpc).

Lead author and professor of physics and astronomy at John Hopkins university Adam Reiss with colleagues Saul Perlmutter and Brian P. Schmidt on the other hand, estimated the expansion at a rate of 74 km/s/Mpc using the second method, looking further into the past of the universe. “With measurement errors negated, what remains is the real and exciting possibility we have misunderstood the universe,” Reiss said.

It was believed that this was a measurement error, confusing Cepheid stars with regular stars in the lens but that appears not to be the case, “We’ve now spanned the whole range of what Hubble observed, and we can rule out a measurement error as the cause of the Hubble Tension with very high confidence,” he added.

“Combining Webb and Hubble gives us the best of both worlds. We find that the Hubble measurements remain reliable as we climb farther along the cosmic distance ladder.”

The findings from the JWST seem to suggest that the universe is expanding at varying speeds and that the calculations depend on where you look.

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