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A crack in the track of the Hubble constant

Gueguen, Marie (2022) A crack in the track of the Hubble constant. [Preprint]


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Measuring the rate at which the universe expands at a given time--the "Hubble constant"-- has been a topic of controversy since the first measure of its expansion by Edwin Hubble in the 1920's. As early as the 1970's, Sandage et de Vaucouleurs have been arguing about the adequate methodology for such a measurement. Should astronomers focus only on their best indicators, e.g., the Cepheids, and improve the precision of this measurement based on a unique object to the best possible? Or should they “spread the risks”, i.e., multiply the indicators and methodologies before averaging over their results? Is a robust agreement across several uncertain measures, as is currently argued to defend the existence of a "Hubble crisis" more telling than a single 1 % precision measurement? This controversy, I argue, stems from a misconception of what managing the uncertainties associated with such experimental measurements require. Astrophysical measurements, such as the measure of the Hubble constant, require a methodology that permits both to reduce the known uncertainties and to track the unknown unknowns. Based on the lessons drawn from the so-called Hubble crisis, I sketch a methodological guide for identifying, quantifying and reducing uncertainties in astrophysical measurements, hoping that such a guide can not only help to re-frame the current Hubble tension, but serve as a starting point for future fruitful discussions between astrophysicists, astronomers and philosophers.

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Item Type: Preprint
Gueguen, Mariemgueguen@uwo.ca0000-0002-7752-4318
Keywords: philosophy of astrophysics, Hubble Constant, replication, robustness
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
Depositing User: Dr Marie Gueguen
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2022 13:29
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 13:29
Item ID: 21282
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
Date: 18 October 2022

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