News of the WeekAstronomy

Hubble Telescope Settles Cosmic Distance Debate--Or Does It?

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Science  28 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5419, pp. 1438-1439
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5419.1438

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A group of astronomers announced this week that they have finally nailed down the so-called Hubble constant, the rate at which the universe is currently expanding. Combined with the universe's density of matter and energy, the Hubble constant gives the age of the universe. At a press conference on 25 May, the team announced its number: The universe is expanding, they say, at 70 kilometers per second for each megaparsec (3.26 million light-years) of distance, implying an age of 12 billion to 13 billion years (also see related Research Article, p. 1503). Not everybody is ready to call the search over, however.