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.
A modified telescope in Arizona has produced an interim map, which is already the largest three-dimensional map of the universe ever — and the instrument is only about a tenth of the way through its five-year mission.
The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), a collaboration between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California and scientists around the world, was installed between 2015 and 2019 on the Mayall telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in the Sonoran Desert, about 50 miles (88 kilometers) west of Tucson, and has been conducting a survey for less than a year.
Its purpose is to create an even larger 3D map of the universe, to yield a better understanding of the physics of dark energy, the mysterious force that is accelerating the expansion of the universe.
Stars may be very, very far from Earth, but obtaining a telescope to get a good look at them only takes a trip to your local public library — and a library card.
And with the Delta Aquariids hitting their meteor-viewing peak later this week, it’s a perfect time to go stargazing here in Utah.
The Salt Lake County Library system has 48 telescopes available for adult patrons to check out. These sturdy, beginner-friendly models are part of the county library’s growing collection of equipment called the Library of Things, which also includes internet hot spots, Chromebooks, tablets and a variety of other items, all free to borrow.
Spearheaded by Joan Carman with the Salt Lake Astronomical Society, the library system’s telescope program provides access to an instrument that usually costs at least $100 and up to $1,000 or more.