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Astronomers Gear Up to Grapple with the High-Tension Cosmos – Scientific American

A debate over conflicting measurements of key cosmological properties is set to shape the next decade of astronomy and astrophysics

By Anil Ananthaswamy, April 18, 2022

Atacama Cosmology Telescope at Cerro Toco in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Credit: Giulio Ercolani/Alamy Stock Photo

How fast is the universe expanding? How much does matter clump up in our cosmic neighborhood? Different methods of answering these two questions—either by observing the early cosmos and extrapolating to present times, or by making direct observations of the nearby universe—are yielding consistently different answers.

The simplest explanation for these discrepancies is merely that our measurements are somehow erroneous, but researchers are increasingly entertaining another, more breathtaking possibility: These twin tensions—between expectation and observation, between the early and late universe—may reflect some deep flaw in the standard model of cosmology, which encapsulates our knowledge and assumptions about the universe.

Finding and fixing that flaw, then, could profoundly transform our understanding of the cosmos.

Source: Astronomers Gear Up to Grapple with the High-Tension Cosmos – Scientific American