BOULDER, Colo. (CBS Denver) – New research shows the universe is expanding in real-time and in all directions at once.
Astrophysicist Jeremy Darling with the University of Colorado Boulder announced his finding after measuring the tiny changes in the cosmos that occur over human timescales.
His research builds on theories that proposed it should be possible to see redshifts change in “real time.”
The redshift is caused when lightwaves elongate as objects move away from us, which our eyes interpret as red light.
“Real-time cosmology offers new ways to observe the universe, including some observations and cosmological tests that cannot be made any other way,” Darling told Space.com.
While observations that the universe is getting bigger have been around for about a half-century, it wasn’t until 1998 that astronomers discovered the expansion of the universe is accelerating. Scientists say a previously unknown force called dark energy is at play.
“This work asks whether the expansion today, that is dominated by dark energy, is the same in all directions,” Darling said.
To make the measurements, Darling used data previously collected by other researchers on the motion of extra-galactic objects across the sky.
The data allowed him to conclude that the cosmic expansion is indeed isotropic, in other words, the same in all directions, with a margin of error of 7 percent.
“If we lived long enough, we would see objects receding away from us, growing smaller and fainter with distance, and accelerating,” Darling said. “We would see the Cosmic Microwave Background roiling as new parts of the last scattering surface, the light horizon, receded. We would see gravity at work, causing large structures of galaxies and galaxy clusters to collapse and voids to expand.
“I could pick my favorite galaxy and watch it accelerate, shrink and dim as it recedes, directly revealing the dynamic aspect of the universe,” Darling said.
And, he added, real-time cosmology could help find answers to the most basic questions about our universe, such as whether or not it is rotating, the nature of dark energy and the masses of large-scale structures in the universe.
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