This year’s Nobel Prize winning finding that the ‘Universe is accelerating’ is being subjected to another validation test in the USA to confirm whether the expansion is “even or uneven”.
“We are testing the acceleration theory through another experiment to find whether the expansion is even or multi-directional. We are confident it would be ‘even’,” says eminent cosmologist Prof.Robert Kirshner who guided two of the three-member team of researchers that bagged the Nobel Prize in Physics – 2011 for the revolutionary finding recently.
With the experimental study now on, this time using the MMT telescope in Arizona and the Magellan Telescope in Northern Chile, he said, the researchers would, within two years, be in a position to collect enough data to determine whether the expansion of the Universe is even or in all directions, Kirshner said.
Kirshner of the Centre for Astrophysics, Harvard University (USA) was interacting with this Indian Science Writers Association(ISWA) representative in South Goa on the sidelines of the just concluded week-long VII International Conference on “Gravitation and Cosmology” organised by the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences(ICTS) under the prestigious Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
As many as 300 astrophysicists from across the world had participated in the conference and shared their findings and experiences on black holes,gravitation wave experiments and need for international collaborations to promote research in astrophysics of the 21st century.
His researchers – Adam Riess and Brian Schmidt – along with Perl mutter, had recently received the Nobel Prize in Physics for their stellar discovery in 1998, used the Panstars Telescope with big array of detectors with a gigapixel resolution to capture the image of many galaxies at the same time for the study.
“I am also confident that such high resolution and higher sensitive telescopes enable us trace the history of their shifts by recognizing what is known as their “Red Shifts” as the galaxies move away from us,” he said.
The on-going studies may also throw light on the ‘fossils of light” emitted when stars exploded during what is known as the “Big Bang” 14 billion years ago that led to the creation of the Universe.
“We expect data we gather could unlock the secrets of the origin of the Universe including the history of the first galaxies, stars and the supernovae and their death,” he said.
Scientists believe that the Universe contain galaxies, each composed of about 100 billion stars observable enough and 100 billion unobservable galaxies.
Earlier in his plenary talk in the conference on “Exploding Stars and the Accelerating Universe,” Kirshner said observations of exploding stars halfway across the universe show that the expansion of the universe is speeding up.
“We attribute this to a pervasive ‘dark energy’ whose properties we would like to understand. This work was recently honoured by the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics to Perl Mutter, Schmidt and Riess.”
He had also presented the most recent evidence from supernovae, Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) fluctuations, and galaxy clustering. The present state of knowledge on dark energy is completely consistent with a modern version of the cosmological constant, but with a ridiculously low value.
He also discussed ways to use infrared observations to make the supernova measurements with better accuracy and higher precision.
Kirshner also explained how improved supernova measurements and the matrix of evidence from other observations can help us understand whether modifications to general relativity or a time-varying component of dark energy can be ruled out.//EOM//