The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) has just completed the most accurate speed check of the early Universe.
The measurements show that the early Universe was expanding about 1% every 44 million years. Although that doesn’t seem like much, I can tell you from my own, personal, expansion of 1% over the last 10 years or so that it adds up (dang, I need to diet again)!
Baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO) refers to regular, periodic fluctuations in the density of the visible baryonic matter (a composite subatomic particle made up of three quarks) of the universe. BAO matter is used as a “standard ruler” for determining lengths in cosmology. The length of this standard ruler (~490 million light years in today’s universe) is measured by looking at the large scale structure of matter using astronomical surveys.
Whew, in other words, scientists can measure the distances from the early Universe to today. Once you know the distances, and the time, you have the speed. Simple right?
So why is this important? It turns out that at the beginning dark matter was pushing everything apart, but now dark energy is moving everything apart. By finding out when/why this happened, scientists may be closer to finding out exactly what they both are and how to measure/detect/observe them both. By the way, that little sliver of atomic matter is every star, planet, asteroid, meteor and dust particle in the Universe.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +