How much confidence do we put into measuring reality? There is much more to it than just inventing better tools when it comes to collecting observational data of the universe. Recently, the Spitzer Space Telescope was able to capture something that has never been seen before, shrinking Cepheid variables.
What is the significance of this? Well, for cosmologists it’s very essential to establish reliable “standard candles” for studies of dark energy as well as to understand their role as the source of most of the iron in the universe.”
“Standard Candles” is like lighting up a stadium which reveals how big it is and how far apart the objects are inside of it, Cepheid variables or “standard candles” are used as a…“a tool for measuring the distances to farther and farther galaxies. The ladder’s first rung consists of pulsating stars called Cepheid variables, or Cepheids for short. Measurements of the distances to these stars from Earth are critical in making precise measurements of even more distant objects. Each rung on the ladder depends on the previous one, so without accurate Cepheid measurements, the whole cosmic distance ladder would come unhinged.”
Of course with this new discovery, the mistake should be corrected and accuracy should resume once again but isn’t this what they had claimed the last time? This is not all in cosmology these days. Gravitational lenses have a distorting effect. Physorg describes it this way…
“Gravitational lensing occurs when light from a distant object is distorted by a massive object that is in the foreground. Astronomers have started to apply this concept in a new way to determine the number of very distant galaxies and to measure dark matter in the universe. Though recent progress has been made in extending the use of gravitational lensing, a letter published in Nature on Jan. 13 makes the case that the tool may be even more necessary than originally thought when looking at distant galaxies.”
Unable to be fixed is the Hubble Space telescope “because at Hubble’s resolution one literally can no longer see the forest for the trees at these extreme distances.” Looks like we will have to wait for the James Webb Space Telescope if that ever gets completed. Space.com reports a warning from these effects on observational data with a new study…
“Cosmic lenses created by the ultra-strong gravity of some objects in space may spoil upcoming estimates of the number of galaxies during the universe’s earliest days by as much as a factor of 10, a new study warns. The problem that researchers now face has to do with the way gravity warps space-time. The greater the mass of an object in space, the stronger its gravitational pull. This in turn can bend light around it, affecting the view by telescopes on Earth…the study found that astronomers failed to account for “magnification bias,” which can make a galaxy appear brighter than it is.”
One scientist says, “calibrate your telescope” and we are not talking about ordinary calibrations either but the only problem, what do you calibrate to? John Woodward, who is working on calibrating the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, isn’t so sure: “because this is one of the first-ever such calibrations of a telescope, it is unclear just how much effect the team’s work will have, and part of their future work will be determining how much they have reduced the uncertainties in Pan-STARRS’s performance.” In other words, it’s guesswork in progress.
So what have we learned? It’s quite a challenge to observe what’s out there in the universe especially from vast distances using such things as telescopes. Correcting it seems like a crapshoot which is not promising. Hopefully, there will be advancements made that are reliable! It’s so amazing to see what’s out there in this great universe which was designed by God!