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An Improved Hubble Yardstick Gives Fresh Evidence for New Physics in the Universe

03/22/2018 07:50AM

An Improved Hubble Yardstick Gives Fresh Evidence for New Physics in the Universe

The good news: Astronomers have made the most precise measurement to date of the rate at which the universe is expanding. The potentially unsettling news: This may mean that there is something unknown about the makeup of the universe because the new numbers remain at odds with independent measurements of the early universe's expansion rate. Is something weird going on with physics in the depths of space? Researchers suggest that there may be new physics at work to explain the inconsistency. One idea is that the universe contains a new subatomic particle that travels close to the speed of light. Such speedy particles, collectively called "Dark Radiation," include previously known particles like neutrinos. Another possibility is that dark matter (an invisible form of matter not made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons) interacts more strongly with normal matter or radiation than previously assumed.


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