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Measuring the Hubble Constant Better 102

eldavojohn writes "The Hubble Constant is used for many things in astrophysics: from determining how fast things are moving away from us, to the total volume of the universe, to predicting how our universe will end. The current best value for the Hubble Constant is 74.2 ± 3.6 (km/s)/Mpc according to recent conventional methods and the recently restored Hubble Telescope. Most astronomers agree that that's within 10% of its actual value. Researchers now claim that they might be able to get to 3% using water molecules in galactic disks to act as masers that amplify radio waves, to analyze galaxies seven times as far away as the current measurements. The further away the 'standard candle' is, the more assured they can be that local effects are not skewing the measurements. From one of the researchers: 'We measured a direct, geometric distance to the galaxy, independent of the complications and assumptions inherent in other techniques. The measurement highlights a valuable method that can be used to determine the local expansion rate of the universe, which is essential in our quest to find the nature of dark energy.' Once the Square Kilometer Array is completed, they hope to get even closer to the actual value."

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