NASA unveils Hubble's 'magnum opus,' most precise measures yet

The SH0ES team is publishing a new paper on an updated value for the Hubble Constant as determined from Hubble observations.

Published Sat, May 21 2022 2:32 AM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jun 9 2022 9:32 AM CDT

A study on the updated Hubble constant titled "A Comprehensive Measurement of the Local Value of the Hubble Constant with 1 km s−1 Mpc−1 Uncertainty from the Hubble Space Telescope and the SH0ES Team" has been accepted for publication into The Astrophysical Journal.

NASA unveils Hubble's 'magnum opus,' most precise measures yet 02 |

Data from the Hubble Space Telescope has been used since it was launched to measure the rate of the universe's expansion. However, there is a discrepancy between the rate derived from Hubble's observations and what other independent observations predict. The SH0ES team (standing for Supernova, H0, for the Equation of State of Dark Energy) and others have been working to refine the universe's rate of expansion, known as the Hubble Constant.

"This is what the Hubble Space Telescope was built to do, using the best techniques we know to do it. This is likely Hubble's magnum opus, because it would take another 30 years of Hubble's life to even double this sample size," said Nobel Laureate Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Over 30 years, Hubble has examined over forty "milepost markers" to measure the universe's expansion rate. Using Hubble's data, several teams of astronomers, including SH0ES, have converged on a Hubble constant of 73 plus or minus 1 kilometer per second per megaparsec. Other estimations have predicted a Hubble constant of 67.5 plus or minus 0.5 kilometers per second per megaparsec.

This value means that a galaxy one megaparsec (~3.3 million light-years) from Earth moves further away at a speed of 73 kilometers per second, and an additional 73 kilometers per second faster for every megaparsec further out the galaxy is, at least according to the Hubble constant derived from Hubble data.

"The Hubble constant is a very special number. It can be used to thread a needle from the past to the present for an end-to-end test of our understanding of the universe. This took a phenomenal amount of detailed work," said Dr. Licia Verde, a cosmologist at ICREA and the ICC-University of Barcelona, speaking about the SH0ES team's work.

You can read more from NASA's breakdown here, and find the study here.

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