Earths location in the Universe is utterly unremarkable

December 19th, 2008 - 2:05 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 19 (ANI): A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada have come up with a theory that suggests the Earths location in the Universe is utterly unremarkable, with the planet not that special as was earlier believed.

Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicuss 1543 book, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, moved Earth from being the centre of the Universe to just another planet orbiting the Sun.

Since then, astronomers have extended the idea and formed the Copernican Principle, which says that our place in the Universe as a whole is completely ordinary.

In 1998, studies of distant explosions called type Ia supernovae indicated that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating, an observation attributed to the repulsive force of a mysterious dark energy.

However, some scientists put forward an alternate theory.

They proposed that the Earth was near the centre of a giant bubble, or void, mostly empty of matter, and strongly violating the Copernican Principle.

If this were the case, gravity would create the illusion of acceleration, mimicking the effect of dark energy on the supernova observations.

Now, some advanced analysis and modeling performed by UBC post-doctoral fellows Jim Zibin and Adam Moss and Astronomy Professor Douglas Scott has shown that this alternate void theory just doesnt add up.

The researchers used data from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe satellite, which includes members from UBC on its international team, as well as data from various ground-based instruments and surveys.

We tested void models against the latest data, including subtle features in the cosmic microwave background radiation the afterglow of the Big Bang and ripples in the large-scale distribution of matter, said Zibin.

We found that void models do a very poor job of explaining the combination of these data, he added.

The teams calculations instead solidify the conventional view that an enigmatic dark energy fills the cosmos and is responsible for the acceleration of the Universe.

Recent advances in data collection have brought us to the era of precision cosmology. Void models are terrible at explaining the new data, but the standard dark energy model works very well, said Zibin.

Since we can only observe the Universe from Earth, its really hard to determine if were in a special place. But, weve now learned that our location is much more ordinary than the strange dark energy that fills the Universe, he added. (ANI)

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