Have you tried to wrap your head around this [WYHAT]
How fast the universe is expanding according to the latest data? 

Math and Technology Changes the Viewpoint

First off the numbers put forth by scientists regarding these WYHAT figures change as technology improves. For example, for a long time the prevailing view of most ancient civilizations was that the earth was the center of the universe (geocentrism) which some noted individuals, i.e., Ptolemy, Aristotle, most Greek philosophers, and the Catholic Church (during the Medieval age), believed, based upon a limited observation or viewpoint and the limited technology at the time.

The technology used when geocentrism was the accepted viewpoint included the astrolabe, planisphere, armillary sphere (celestial globes), the nocturnal, radius astronomicus (Jacob’s Staff),  dioptra, the astronomical clock, i.e., astrarium, Antikythera mechanism and the quadrant.

Tycho Brahe (16th Century astronomer) correctly saw the Moon as orbiting Earth, and the planets as orbiting the Sun, but erroneously considered the Sun to be orbiting the Earth.

Using a geometric mathematical model, the noted mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus in the 16th century, along with Johannes Kepler, who elaborated or expanded this model to include elliptical orbits, and with the invention of the telescope, allowed Galileo Galilei to prove that the earth is not at the center of the universe, thus heliocentrism was born and eventually accepted in the centuries that followed. The telescope, technology, along with math changed the prevailing viewpoint to a different one.

“The telescope not only gave us a better look of celestial objects, but also fundamentally changed the very nature of astronomy.” [1]

Another example of how technology changes our viewpoint is the evidence learned from the Cosmic microwave background (CMB), discovered in 1965 by Arno A. Penzias and Robert W. Wilson of Bell Laboratories. The math discovered from CMB indicates that the universe is composed of mostly dark energy and matter (68% dark energy, 27% dark matter which is a total of 95%),  and only 5% is composed of normal matter! You would think we could detect and measure this dark energy or matter in our solar system.  Alas, the technology hasn’t been invented to detect or measure any dark energy or matter.  As Ethan Siegel writes in Forbes, “But until our measurements become more and more precise, there simply isn't enough of a gravitational effect to result in anything detectable.” You can imagine that if the technology is invented to detect and measure dark energy or matter, this will without a doubt present some new questions and change our viewpoint again. So how do we know dark matter and energy exists? That is definitely a matter of faith based upon the evidence seen in current technological data along with the math. [19] 

Age of the Earth and Universe Estimates Change with Technology

19th century calculations of the age of the earth were between 20 million and 400 million years old. [2]

“In the 1920s, Earth's age crept up toward 3 billion years, making it for a time even older than the universe, which was then estimated to be about 1.8 billion years old.” [2]

Life magazine in its issue of December 20, 1954 states, "Calculations made from present measurements of their rate of recession indicate that their cosmic journey began about five billion years ago. The extraordinary fact about this figure is that it coincides with recent findings as the probable age of radioactive substances found in the Earth’s crust, and the age of the oldest stars derived from modern theories of stellar evolution. All the clues of science point to a time of creation when the cosmic fires were ignited and the vast pageant of the present universe brought into being. And this time was five billion years ago.” [2]

Allan Rex Sandage (1926 - 2010), astronomer, calculated the age of some stars at 25 billion years old.

As technology improved, i.e., radiometric dating, the earth’s age is calculated at 4.54 billion years ago. [3] The age of the universe is now estimated to be 13.8 billion years old. [4] These examples show that as technology improves, the viewpoint based upon the data, including the math,  changes the estimate of the age of the earth and universe. 

Number of Stars in Milky Way Galaxy Estimates Change with Technology

"Until the early 1920s, most astronomers thought that the Milky Way contained all the stars in the Universe...observations by Edwin Hubble showed that the Milky Way is just one of many galaxies....estimated to contain 100–400 billion stars and more than 100 billion planets." Wikipedia  As technology improved, i.e., NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the ESA Gaia mission, new data has calculated that the Milky Way is 1.5 trillion solar masses, way larger than previous estimates. [20] Currently the estimate is that there are way more planets than stars in the universe. This is just another example of how views change with new data due to technological advancements. 

Expanding Universe

By the turn of the 20th century Einstein was working on a mathematical model to prove that the universe was static, but later abandoned this when technological evidence showed that the universe is expanding with the discovery of the redshift (the Doppler effect) that convinced Einstein to change his view. “A redshift occurs whenever a light source moves away from an observer. A special instance of this is the cosmological redshift, which is due to the expansion of the universe, and sufficiently distant light sources (generally more than a few million light years away) show redshift corresponding to the rate of increase in their distance from Earth.” Wikipedia

"In the 1960s, Fred Hoyle proposed the “Steady State” universe, in which there was no beginning — the universe just expanded at the same rate forever and new matter was “spontaneously” generated between the galaxies. Now, we favor the Big Bang universe. It is a highly successful mathematical cosmology that has made successful predictions and survived many experimental tests."  [27] 

Velocity Rate?

This rate of expansion is called the Hubble Constant  (Ho), because Edwin Hubble was one of the firsts to try to measure this rate but was way off in his calculation. As Wikipedia explains, “Then Georges Lemaître, in a 1927 article, proposed the expansion of the universe and suggested an estimated value of the rate of expansion, which when corrected by Hubble became known as the Hubble constant.” [5]

“Hubble’s own estimate—500 kilometers per second for megaparsec—was way off, but such is the nature of discovery when the right technology isn’t around yet.” [6]

“If astronomers could calculate how fast the universe is expanding, they could use that calculation to estimate its age. Moreover, the rate of expansion might have serious implications for the future.  How so? It is reasoned that if, for instance, the universe is expanding too slowly, gravity might ultimately win out and cause everything to collapse in a final “big crunch”! But if the expansion is too rapid, the universe might expand forever and dissipate entirely.” A Universe Full of Surprises, Awake!, 8/2009

"As an interesting aside, unfortunately, the expansion has some bleak implications for the future of the universe. Assuming the expansion continues indefinitely (and doesn’t slow), the horizon of the visible universe will gradually shrink until objects will simply be too far apart for light from one galaxy to ever reach another." [6]

"Measured one way, the universe appears to be expanding at a certain rate; measured another way, the universe appears to be expanding at a different rate. And, as a new paper shows, those discrepancies have gotten larger in recent years, even as the measurements have gotten more precise." How the Universe Stopped Making Sense, Rafi Letzter, Live Science

What is interesting is that depending on the rate of expansion, the slower the expansion the older the universe is supposed to be and the faster the expansion the younger the universe. For example, "A higher value for the Hubble Constant indicates a shorter age for the universe. A constant of 67.74 km per second per megaparsec would lead to an age of 13.8 billion years, whereas one of 73, or even as high as 77 as some studies have shown, would indicate a universe age no greater than 12.7 billion years." [26] One Study proposed a Hubble Constant of 82.4 — suggesting that the universe's age is only 11.4 billion years. [25]

67 to 82 Kilometers per second for megaparsec

“In 2015, another team, using observations of the cosmic microwave background, determined the rate was 67.8 kilometers per second for megaparsec. And last year, a different team, using observations of Cepheid stars and supernovae put it at 73.2 kilometers per second for megaparsec. That figure was higher than most earlier estimates, and surprised many astronomers.” [6]

“The more modern value is 68 kilometers per second per megaparsec, plus or minus a couple, but close enough.” [6]

There are a number of different estimates on this which extends to 75 km/sec/Mpc which we will further discuss below. But first let's understand these terms and then we will get back to the debate of how fast the universe is expanding.  

A study published September 2019 in the journal Science proposed a Hubble Constant of 82.4 kilometers per second for megaparsec.  [25] 

What is a megaparsec?

“One megaparsec is 1 million parsec or 3.26 million light-years.” [2] A parsec is 3.26 light years. Megaparsec is a million parsecs. 

Paul Sutter, an astrophysicist explains, “It means that if you look at a galaxy 1 megaparsec away, it will appear to be receding away from us at 68 km/s. If you look at a galaxy 2 megaparsec away, it recedes at 136 km/s. Three megaparsec away? You got it! 204 km/s. And on and on: for every megaparsec, you can add 68 km/s to the velocity of the far-away galaxy.” [2]

The velocity then grows until it reaches faster than the speed of light, according to the math. [7]

So in a galaxy far, far away, its velocity is faster than the speed of light, but as Paul explains, velocity is measured only in local regions of space, and “can only measure something's velocity and actually call it a "velocity" when it's nearby and when the rules of special relativity apply.” [7]

To wrap your head around  this (WYHAT), one parsec is equal to about 3.26 light-years (30 trillion km or 19 trillion miles) in length. [8] Astronomers prefer using parsec over a light-year as well as using the term, astronomical unit,[9]  which is a fundamental component in the definition of parsec.  A megaparsec (Mpc) is one million parsecs (3.26 million light years or 19 Quintillion (million trillion) miles).

So the rate the universe is expanding according to the latest figures is approximately 68 kilometers (42.2 miles) per second per megaparsec (3.26 million light-years), which is one of the most widely accepted rates. To WYHAT the velocity rate is 151,920 miles per hour per megaparsec. 

To put this into perspective, the fasted manned spacecraft traveled at 24,000 mph. [10]  One of the fastest unmanned spacecrafts, NASA's Juno probe, reached 165,000 mph. [11] NASA’s Parker Solar Probe reached 213,200 miles per hour during a flyby of the sun. It is reported that the Parker Solar Probe will eventually reach a speed of 430,000 miles per hour at its closest approach. [11]  

What is the point of comparing human space crafts with how fast the universe is expanding? Very few human space crafts can go faster than the rate the universe is expanding and they have to use the gravity of a solar object to increase its speed. There hasn't been invented yet any engine that can go faster than the Hubble constant rate. For example, one article explains how long it would take to get to the nearest star system based upon the rate of using 'ionic propulsion' which current technology has "managed to reach a velocity of 56,000 km/hr (35,000 miles/hr)" it would "take over 81,000 years to traverse the 4.24 light years between Earth and Proxima Centauri." [11]

Math Viewpoints Change the Rate of Expansion Depending on the Data 

There are at least several different math viewpoints on how to determine the rate of the expansion of the universe. Why these teams get different results is the data that is relied upon using the technologies available at the time of the report. 

(1)  Spitzer Space Telescope Data

       74.3 plus or minus 2.1 kilometers per second per megaparsec [12]

(2)  Team data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck - telescope in Hawaii

        73.2 kilometers per second per megaparsec  [6] [13]

(3)  H0liCOW

      71.9 kilometers per second for megaparsec  [6] 14]

        (4) Planck 2015 results 

             67.8 kilometers per second for megaparsec [6] [15]

                  Planck 2019 results: 6,200 mph per million light-years (or, using cosmologists' units, 67.4 kilometers/second per megaparsec) [21]

        (5) Allan Rex Sandage

       75 kilometers per second for megaparsec (46.6028 miles per second for megaparsec) [16]

  (6) Cepheids 

       50,400 mph per million light-years (73.4 km/s/Mpc). [21]

As Ethan Siegel, Forbes points out there are basically two methods used in the data used for the above figures, the 'distance ladder' method and the 'leftover relic' method. He discusses a third method called the 'standard siren' method. Siegel says, “What that rate is, however, is the subject of a great debate raging in cosmology today. If you measure that rate from the Big Bang's afterglow, you get one value for Hubble's constant: 67 km/s/Mpc. If you measure it from individual stars, galaxies, and supernovae, you get a different value: 74 km/s/Mpc. Who's right, and who's in error? It's one of the biggest controversies in science today.” [17]

“The equations of the expanding universe have three possible solutions, each of which predicts a different eventual fate for the universe as a whole….The three possible types of expanding universes are called open, flat, and closed universes.” [18]

CNN reports, "The universe is expanding 9% faster than scientists expected, according to a new study. " This is based upon a paper published in the The Astrophysical Journal. This is the result of the Hubble SH0ES team (Supernovae Ho for the Equation of State) led by Adam Riess of the Johns Hopkins University and Space Telescope Science Institute, who report the universe is expanding at a rate of 74 km/sec/Mpc according to Hubblesite. 

Science Alert reports of another team from the University of Chicago under the direction of astronomer Wendy Freedman and reported in a NASA press release has a different rate of velocity which is to be published by The Astrophysical Journal, and according to the team's data and math found that "the Universe is expanding at 69.8 kilometers per second per megaparsec, per the press release."

Another team published a much higher rate of expansion, 82 kilometres per second per megaparsec, published in the Science13 Sep 2019:Vol. 365, Issue 6458, pp. 1076-1077, as well as on ScienceAlert

So, as you can see, the physicists/astronomers have debated this subject for some time now.  However the range is between 67 and 82 kilometers per second per megaparsec.  

Latest Data from James Webb

The latest data from the James Webb telescope working with data from Hubble suggests that there are no math errors in the 'Hubble Tension' and it depends on where you look for data to determine the rate of expansion.  [28]

Shape of the Universe

“The exact shape is still a matter of debate in physical cosmology, but experimental data from various, independent sources (WMAP, BOOMERanG, and Planck for example) confirm that the observable universe is flat with only a 0.4% margin of error.” Shape of the Universe, Wikipedia 

"That the universe has no center — and, by extension, no edge — is consistent with the cosmological principle, the idea that no place in the universe is special." [22] 

Is this difficult to WYHAT? Yes. Why? Because cosmologists will explain that the earth is about 25 thousand light years from the galactic center and 25 thousand light years to the galactic rim.[23]  The nearest major galaxy is Andromeda, which is 2.537 million light years from earth, and according to physicists is moving towards us at 250,000 miles per hour and the Milky Way is traveling toward Andromeda at the the same speed.[24] Most of the other galaxies are moving away from us. All this movement of most galaxies moving away from us and Andromeda moving towards us certainly boggles the mind. To imagine that there is no center to all this movement is one of the most difficult WYHATs to grasp. Future data may change this viewpoint. One article in discussing the size and shape of the universe states, "All we can truly conclude is that the universe is much larger than the volume we can directly observe." [22] One science writer put it this way, "One possibility is that, somewhere, a few of our calculations are not quite right."  [22]


One other difficult WYHAT to grasp is if you look at one of the most distant galaxies known, MACS0647-JD, which is reported to be 13.3 billion light-years from Earth and has a red-shift, meaning, it is moving away from us. Understand that an object in the universe such as this galaxy we are looking at has two positions, (1),  where we see it, and (2) where it is. So we are looking at MACS0647-JD which took the light from that galaxy 13.3 billion years to reach us so it is a snap shot of what it looked like that many years ago. 

The universe is 13.8 billion years old according to the latest data. So imagine a star or galaxy that is further away from MACS0647-JD, say it is 13.8 billion light years from Earth. There would not be enough time for the light to reach earth to view it if it is moving away from earth. And if this object is traveling away from Earth and the Earth is traveling away from this object, you would never see this star or galaxy since the light doesn't have enough time to reach earth and never will.  

HD 140283 is Older than the Universe?

Another WYHAT is the star dubbed 'Methuselah' which is designated HD 140283 in the Libra constellation which is supposed to be older than the universe according to at least one source.  [26] 

Spaceship Earth

The earth is a spaceship traveling around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour while at the same time revolving on its axis at 1000 miles per hour. The sun is traveling around the galaxy (galactic year) at 514,000 mph while also revolving on its own axis. Another source says the Milky Way Galaxy is spinning around at 515,000 mph. Now, factor in the expanding universe at 151,920 miles per hour and we certainly have a lot of movement. Wrap your head around this (WYHAT)!

End Notes

[1] Measuring the Heavens: Astronomical Instruments before the Telescope, R.Egler, Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 100, Issue 1, p.37

 [2] How is Earth's Age Calculated?, Jeanna Bryner, Managing Editor, Live Science 

Age of the Earth, Early Calculations, Wikipedia

“In 1895, John Perry produced an age-of-Earth estimate of 2 to 3 billion years.” Age of the Earth, Early Calculations, Convective mantle and radioactivity, Wikipedia

Life magazine in its issue of December 20, 1954

[3] Age of the Earth, Wikipedia

[4] Age of the Universe, Wikipedia

“However Sandage, like Einstein, did not believe his own results at the time of discovery. His value for the age of the universe was too short to reconcile with the 25-billion-year age estimated at that time for the oldest known stars.” Wikipedia

Sandage performed photometric studies of globular clusters, and calculated their age to be at least 25 billion years. This led him to speculate that the universe did not merely expand, but actually expanded and contracted with a period of 80 billion years.” Wikipedia

[5] Hubble’s Law, Wikipedia

[6] How Fast Is the Universe Expanding?, by Marina Koren, Atlantic

Science Explained: How Can the Diameter of the Universe Exceed its Age?, Jolene Creighton, September 27, 2013, Futurism

[7] How Can the Universe Expand Faster Than the Speed of Light?, By Paul Sutter, Space

[8] Parsec, Wikipedia

Names of large numbers, Wikipedia

[9] An astronomical unit is “roughly the distance from Earth to the Sun.” Wikipedia

[10] How Can We Travel Faster in Space21stCentury Explorer, Joseph Trevathan, Dan Woodard, and Victoria Friedensen, NASA

[11] “When it slipped into orbit around Jupiter in July 2016, NASA's Juno probe briefly clocked in at 165,000 mph (266,000 km/h), making it the fastest spacecraft to date.” NASA Is About to Launch the Fastest Spacecraft in History. Target: The Sun!, by Meghan Bartels, Space.com

The Fastest Spacecraft Ever Zips Past the Sun for a Third Time, Popular Mechanics, Jennifer Leman, Sep 4, 2019

'ionic propulsion', How Long Would It Take To Travel To The Nearest Star?, Matt Williams, January 26, 2016, Universe Today

[12] Spitzer Provides Most Precise Measurement Yet of the Universe’s Expansion, by Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today

[13] Hubble finds universe is expanding faster than expected, UC Berkeley, Astronomy Now

[14] Astronomers measure universe expansion, get hints of 'new physics', University of California - Davis, EurekaAlert!

[15] Planck 2015 results. XIII. Cosmological parameters, arXiv:1502.01589v3[astro-ph.CO]

[16] “Sandage began working at the Palomar Observatory. In 1958 he published the first good estimate for the Hubble constant, revising Hubble's value of 250 down to 75 km/s/Mpc, which is close to today's accepted value. Later he became the chief advocate of an even lower value, around 50, corresponding to a Hubble age of around 20 billion years.” Allan Sandage, Wikipedia

[17] “The debate over the Hubble constant has divided astronomers into two main camps. Dr. Sandage and his partisans have long maintained that this constant is somewhere between 42 and 56, while Dr. Freedman and many other astrophysicists have argued for a value of about 80, which would imply a much younger universe, perhaps as young as eight billion years old.” Age of Universe Is Now Settled, Astronomer Says, By MALCOLM W. BROWNE, NY Times, MARCH 5, 1996

[18] The Expanding Universe, Sloan Digital SkySurvey

Scientists Still Don't Know How Fast The Universe Is Expanding, Forbes



 [19] For a couple of sites with the evidence:

How Do We Know Dark Energy Exists?, Universe Today

How do we know dark matter exists if we can't see it?,  Spaceplace, Nasa 

 [20] HUBBLE & GAIA ACCURATELY WEIGH THE MILKY WAY [HEIC1905], March 9, 2019, European Space Agency Science

 [21] One Number Shows Something Is Fundamentally Wrong with Our Conception of the Universe,  Adam Mann, LiveScience

 [22]  Where Is the Center of the Universe?, LiveScience

"There is no centre of the universe!  According to the standard theories of cosmology, the universe started with a "Big Bang" about 14 thousand million years ago and has been expanding ever since.  Yet there is no centre to the expansion; it is the same everywhere.  The Big Bang should not be visualised as an ordinary explosion.  The universe is not expanding out from a centre into space; rather, the whole universe is expanding and it is doing so equally at all places, as far as we can tell." Where is the centre of the universe?, Philip Gibbs 1997

"Centering a sphere on Earth's location in space might seem to put mankind in the center of the universe. However, like that same ship in the ocean, we cannot tell where we lie in the enormous span of the universe. Just because we cannot see land does not mean we are in the center of the ocean; just because we cannot see the edge of the universe does not mean we lie in the center of the universe." How Big is the Universe?, Nola Taylor Redd, Space.com

"One possibility is that, somewhere, a few of our calculations are not quite right." It took centuries, but now we know the size of the universe, The Big Questions, Universe, Chris Baraniuk, June 13, 2016, BBC 

In a related discussion on the 'cosmological constant' an article published by Live Science states: 

"The cosmological constant [or dark energy] currently constitutes about 70% of the energy content in our universe, which is what we can infer from the observed accelerated expansion that our universe is presently undergoing. Yet this constant is not understood," Lombriser said. "Attempts to explain it have failed, and there seems to be something fundamental that we are missing in how we understand the cosmos. Unraveling this puzzle is one of the major research areas in modern physics." Einstein's Biggest Blunder' May Have Finally Been Fixed, Tim Childers, Live Science 

 [23] "The Solar System (and Earth) is located about 25,000 light-years to the galactic center and 25,000 light-years away from the rim. So basically, if you were to think of the Milky Way as a big record, we would be the spot that’s roughly halfway between the center and the edge."

Where is Earth in the Milky Way?, Universe Today

 [24] The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy are on a collision course!, 21 June 2012 by Phil Bull, University of Oxford

 measurement of the Hubble constant from angular diameter distances to two gravitational lenses

 [25]  Science  13 Sep 2019:

Vol. 365, Issue 6458, pp. 1134-1138

DOI: 10.1126/science.aat7371

A measurement of the Hubble constant from angular diameter distances to two gravitational lenses

Inh Jee, Sherry H. Suyu, Eiichiro Komatsu, Christopher D. Fassnacht, Stefan Hilbert, Léon V. E. Koopmans

 [26]  How Can a Star Be Older Than the Universe?, David Crookes - All About Space magazine,  Science & Astronomy. Space.com 

 [27]  How fast is the universe expanding? We know nought., Star News, Chris Churchill, Professor of astronomy at New Mexico State University 

[28]  James Webb telescope confirms there is something seriously wrong with our understanding of the universe, By Ben Turner, Live Science