The universe might be acting weird. Cosmic 'lenses' may help reveal why.

A new method for measuring how fast the universe is flying apart could help astronomers wrestling with a possible crisis in cosmology.

From the moment it burst into existence more than 13 billion years ago, the universe has been expanding, with galaxies visibly flying apart from each other.

Astronomers have tried to measure one of the most important numbers in cosmology, the Hubble constant, which describes how quickly this expansion is happening and the universe’s age in turn.

But recently, multiple efforts to find a value for the Hubble constant have turned up a potential crisis in cosmology: the universe seems to be flying apart faster than expected.

Now, researchers have announced a new way to look at the problem by examining galaxies so massive, they warp spacetime around them and bend faraway light like giant lenses.

“We can provide a unique perspective, in terms of measuring the Hubble constant,” says lead study author Inh Jee, who completed the work while a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.

“The main question, I think, [is] if our cosmological model is in danger,” Wojtak says. “I don’t know the answer to this question, but I can say that we are getting to the point that we have to consider this option really seriously.”

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