Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia Society
Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Expanding Confusion: Common Misconceptions of Cosmological Horizons and the Superluminal Expansion of the Universe


Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia 21(1) 97 - 109
Published: 31 March 2004

Abstract

We use standard general relativity to illustrate and clarify several common misconceptions about the expansion of the universe. To show the abundance of these misconceptions we cite numerous misleading, or easily misinterpreted, statements in the literature. In the context of the new standard ΛCDM cosmology we point out confusions regarding the particle horizon, the event horizon, the ‘observable universe’ and the Hubble sphere (distance at which recession velocity = c). We show that we can observe galaxies that have, and always have had, recession velocities greater than the speed of light. We explain why this does not violate special relativity and we link these concepts to observational tests. Attempts to restrict recession velocities to less than the speed of light require a special relativistic interpretation of cosmological redshifts. We analyze apparent magnitudes of supernovae and observationally rule out the special relativistic Doppler interpretation of cosmological redshifts at a confidence level of 23σ.

Keywords: cosmology: observations — cosmology: theory

https://doi.org/10.1071/AS03040

© ASA 2004

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