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Until recently, it was thought that this increase in size was occurring evenly in all directions, as with a good yeast dough. Astrophysicists call this “isotropy”. Many calculations on the fundamental properties of the universe are based on this assumption. It is possible that they are all wrong – or at least, inaccurate – thanks to compelling observations and analyses of the scientists from the Universities of Bonn and Harvard.
For they have put the isotropy hypothesis to the test for the first time with a new method that allows more reliable statements than before. With an unexpected result: According to this method, some areas in space expand faster than they should, while others expand more slowly than expected. “In any case, this conclusion is suggested by our measurements,” states Konstantinos Migkas, from the Argelander Institute for Astronomy at the University of Bonn.
The third possibility is the most serious: What if the universe is not isotropic at all? What if -- metaphorically speaking -- the yeast in the galactic raisin roll is so unevenly distributed that it quickly bulges in some places while it hardly grows at all in other regions? Such an anisotropy could, for example, result from the properties of the mysterious "dark energy," which acts as an additional driving force for the expansion of the universe. However, a theory is still missing that would make the behavior of the Dark Energy consistent with the observations. "If we succeed in developing such a theory, it could greatly accelerate the search for the exact nature of this form of energy," Migkas is certain.
I've seen data for type 1a supernovae, a type of exploding star with a brightness in a limited range, which show how the expansion of the universe is accelerating. Since we know how bright they are, we think we are able to determine how far away they are with a reasonable degree of accuracy.
originally posted by: 727Sky
The expansion rate has been based off of the known/estimated brightness of a certain class of stars.
Yes but I'm not sure they have as many variables identified as for the type 1a supernovae. They say in the abstract that
Using both of the mentioned telescopes they are using X-rays emitted by galaxies for their new measurements.
Including all degrees of freedom simultaneously for the first time, anisotropic expansion of the Universe is strongly disfavoured, with odds of 121,000:1 against.