Type 1A supernovae: A tiny white dwarf, left, pulls gas from its companion star. When it grows to a critical size, it is consumed in a massive thermonuclear explosion
Courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Measurements of 11 exploding stars spread throughout the visible universe made by the Hubble Space Telescope confirm an earlier, ground-based study which produced the first evidence that the universe is not only expanding, but expanding at an increasing rate.
The new study, which has been posted online [http://www.arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0309368] and will soon appear in the Astrophysical Journal, also provides some tantalizing new insights into the nature of the mysterious repulsive force, dubbed dark energy, that appears to be propelling this run-away expansion.
“As far as the ultimate fate of the universe goes, the most straightforward conclusion is that over the next few billion years it is going to become an increasingly thin, cold and boring place,” says Robert Knop, the assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Vanderbilt University who led the analysis of the supernova data for the Supernova Cosmology Project (SCP), an international collaboration of 48 scientists directed from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.
David F. Salisbury | Vanderbilt University
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