The Nobel Prize for Physics 2011 was announced today. Three astrophysicists join a galaxy of numinous people, from Einstein to Heisenberg to Feynman for the big award in physics. They were looking at cosmic lighthouses, distant supernovae – the only objects bright enough to be observed at such vast distances – and they have concluded that the energy they emit is too faint, or, fainter than it ought to be.
So, the Universe isn’t just expanding, but its rate of expansion is increasing. The radius of the ball that is the Universe isn’t just getting bigger at a steady rate, the rate itself is increasing. So, energy from distant objects is being smeared out over a wider and wider area hence the light arriving on every square metre of Earth is less intense.
What does this mean? It means that the inflationary force of expansion of the early Universe plus other forces due to dark matter are bigger than the gravitational attractions wanting to pull all the bits together. It also means that Einstein’s fudge factor in 1917 to prevent the collapse of the Universe was probably right. It also implies that 70% or more of the Universe is dark matter energy which exerts repulsive (antigravity) forces. So, overall density is decreasing (ω<1) and the dark and the cold will surely come…
But, not yet.