Cosmic dust distorts the results of galaxy measurements, Czech scientists have pointed out

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Astrophysicists, who have long been concerned with the origin, structure and evolution of the universe, use exploding stars, or supernovae, for this. They refer to them as standard candles.

Each of them turns into a source of light energy at the time of the explosion, which makes it possible to determine its distance from the Earth. Standard candles are used for basic measurements of distances in space.

The results of measuring the distances of the galaxies revealed a contradiction.

Michal Zajaček, astrophysicist, Masaryk University Brno

Measurement discrepancies

This is done by comparing the measured intensity of the supernova’s radiation with its total energy. In this way, the luminosity distance in space can be determined. But in the last ten years, according to Zajaček, some measurements have caused a wrinkle on the forehead of theoretical physicists. They discovered certain inconsistencies in the measured rate of expansion of the universe, the so-called Hubble constant.

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“It is a well-known fact that the universe is expanding and its expansion is accelerating, but known methods yielded different values, especially when measuring the rate of expansion,” the astrophysicist told Novinkám.

The discrepancy in the Hubble constant appears when comparing near and far measurements. Cracking this problem would help measurements across the entire visible universe.

The experts tested their theory that dust in the centers of galaxies distorts the measured distances by observing 58 active galaxies. They used two different methods to do this.

The first evaluates ultraviolet and X-ray radiation emitted by the centers of galaxies. The second method works with ultraviolet radiation values ​​and takes into account the red-hot gas near black holes.

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They suggested the better of the data discovery methods

“A contradiction emerged from the results of measuring the distances of galaxies using the mentioned two methods. We found that dust, which is located in the centers of galaxies and orbits in the form of clouds around the central black hole, can absorb and scatter both UV and X-ray radiation, thereby distorting the measured distances of galaxies from us,” explained Zajaček.

According to him, such a space is as unclear as a desert during a sandstorm, regardless of the fact that the Sun is shining on it.

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Photo: archive of Michal Zajaček and the collective

On the graph, the position of 58 galaxies in the sky, together with the distribution of dust in our Milky Way

Michal Zajaček’s team, which also includes astronomers from Poland and the USA, showed on the basis of the obtained data that dust in the vicinity of galaxies distorts the measured distance values, especially with the first method, but does not affect the second method, which works with the radius-luminosity relationship. Based on this finding, experts therefore suggest that the first method should no longer be used.

“This is undoubtedly one of the most important topics that physicists are currently dealing with. This method could help physicists clarify ambiguities in current theories about the universe. And whoever figures it out might get a Nobel Prize for it,” the scientist added with a smile.

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The article is in Czech

Tags: Cosmic dust distorts results galaxy measurements Czech scientists pointed

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