Nina Maksimova ’15 and Professor Caldwell Study Cosmic Acceleration

By Jessica Zischke, The Dartmouth Staff | 11/14/13 7:00am

As a teenager, it’s not uncommon to be told that the world doesn’t revolve around you when you seem to only be focused on yourself. Nina Maksimova ’15 and physics professor Robert Caldwell are breaking this news to the Milky Way galaxy: that it is not in fact at the center of the universe.

The pair has been studying different explanations for the accelerating expansion of the universe, a field in which many people are currently studying, specifically on dark energy and possible new laws of physics, as Dartmouth Now reported. However, these solutions have only been considered with the assumption that the Milky Way galaxy is near the center of the universe.

As Dartmouth Now’s article reports, Maksimova and Caldwell wanted to examine whether this model would prove true along with other observational tests. The Cosmic Microwave Background is the light left over from the Big Bang in the sky that has been carefully observed over the years. However, the theory predicts a glow that does not fit what has been measured.

“Essentially, Nina and I held a mirror up to the universe and asked if the reflection was special,” Caldwell said in an interview with Dartmouth Now. “We do not appear to live at the center of the universe.”

This new information they discovered is an important step toward understanding the physics behind cosmic acceleration. Still, there are many other theories and possible explanations that have yet to be tested.

Jessica Zischke, The Dartmouth Staff