For the first time ever, supermassive black holes have been used to measure the growth of the universe.
In a new study published to Nature Astronomy, astronomers have found the universe is expanding faster than previously thought.
This discovery could mean a whole new process is required to understand the universe.
- Supermassive black hole appears to be firing a beam right at Earth
- Black holes might evolve into 'white holes' and spew everything back out
- Distant black hole collision felt on Earth
In this new study, scientists used black holes in distant galaxies as reference points, so they could measure how quickly growth was occurring. Because they emit radiation, they are among the brightest points in the universe.
Using data from 1600 supermassive black holes, astronomers were able to record the universe expanding, and the black holes moving further from one another, allowing them to record the rate of expansion.
Their results suggest the expansion of the universe is different to what we thought we knew previously.
Dr Lusso says one explanation for this change could be dark energy - theoretical energy that may act in opposition to gravity, and account for the majority of the universe's energy.
"We may need to explore new physics - for example, rethinking the potential properties of dark energy," she told The Independent.
The rate of universe expansion has proven difficult to pin down. Although it has long been understood that the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang, the speed at which it is doing so appears to vary depending on how it's measured, reports The Independent.