A new set of measurements suggest that we may have made a mistake about the fundamental nature of the universe.
Researchers have found yet more evidence that our measure of the Hubble Constant, which represents the rate of expansion of the universe, is wrong.
The new findings come after researchers used a set of radio telescopes to create new, precise measurements of the rate at which the universe is expanding.
But they found there was a discrepancy between the previously measured values of the Hubble Constant and the value that is predicted by the model that comes from the cosmic microwave background from the Planck Satellite.
That suggests there may indeed be something wrong with the "Standard Model" we use to describe the fundamental nature of the universe. For years, scientists have grasped with that potential problem, and wondered whether it was the result of mismeasurement or something more profoundly wrong with the model itself.
"We find that galaxies are nearer than predicted by the standard model of cosmology, corroborating a problem identified in other types of distance measurements. There has been debate over whether this problem lies in the model itself or in the measurements used to test it. Our work uses a distance measurement technique completely independent of all others, and we reinforce the disparity between measured and predicted values. It is likely that the basic cosmological model involved in the predictions is the problem," said James Braatz, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).
The new measurements were in line with previous measurements, suggesting those were correct – but notably different from that value predicted by modelling.
"Our measurement of the Hubble Constant is very close to other recent measurements, and statistically very different from the predictions based on the CMB and the standard cosmological model. All indications are that the standard model needs revision," said Braatz.
There are a variety of ways the model could be adjusted to attempt to resolve the differences. They could include alterations to the way we understand dark energy, differences in our model of particle physics, or even more exotic possibilities.
Predictions of the Hubble Constant from models suggest that it should be about 67.4 per second per megaparsec. That is derived by looking at the leftover radiation from the Big Bang, and using our standard cosmological model of the universe.
But most measurements of the Hubble Constant – which use techniques such as "standard candles", which looks at the brightness of objects to understand how far away they are – have produced readings of about 73-74.
The latest research used radio telescopes and novel techniques to understand the Hubble Constant with even more precision. They came up with a value of 73.9.