A standard concept of cosmology has been challenged by a team of researchers headed by an Indian-origin scientist by their discovery that the universe may not be actually be expanding at an accelerating rate. In 2011, three astronomers were awarded nobel Prize for their dicovery, in late 1990, that universe is expanding at increasing pace.
Their results were based on the study of Type la supernovae – the spectacular thermonuclear explosion of dying stars that was picked up by Hubble space telescope and large ground-based telescopes.
It has led to a widespread belief that the universe is dominated by a mysterious substance named ‘dark energy’ that drives this accelerating expansion.
In a paper published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, the team of scientists led by Professor Subir Sarkar of Oxford University’s Department of Physics has cast doubt on this standard cosmological concept.
“Naturally, a lot of work will be necessary to convince the physics community of this, but our work serves to demonstrate that a key pillar of the standard cosmological model is rather shaky,” Sarkar said.
Making use of a vastly increased data set – a catalogue of 740 Type Ia supernovae, more than ten times the original sample size – the researchers have discovered that the evidence for universe expanding rate may be feeble than earlier thought, with same data with constant rate of expression.
“The discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe won the Nobel Prize, the Gruber Cosmology Prize, and the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. It led to the widespread acceptance of the idea that the universe is dominated by “dark energy” that behaves like a cosmological constant – this is now the “standard model” of cosmology,” Sarkar noted.
“However, there now exists a much bigger database of supernovae on which to perform rigorous and detailed statistical analyses,” he added.