http://arxiv.org/abs/1604.01424

A 2.4% Determination of the Local Value of the Hubble Constant, Adam G. Riess, Lucas M. Macri, Samantha L. Hoffmann, Dan Scolnic, Stefano Casertano, Alexei V. Filippenko, Brad E. Tucker, Mark J. Reid, David O. Jones, Jeffrey M. Silverman, Ryan Chornock, Peter Challis, Wenlong Yuan, Peter J. Brown and Ryan J. Foley, Accepted ApJ (17 May 2016)

We use the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to reduce the uncertainty in the local value of the Hubble constant (H_0) from 3.3% to 2.4%. Improvements come from new, near-infrared observations of Cepheid variables in 11 new hosts of recent SNe~Ia, more than doubling the sample of SNe~Ia having a Cepheid-calibrated distance for a total of 19; these leverage the magnitude-z relation based on 300 SNe~Ia at z < 0.15. All 19 hosts and the megamaser system NGC4258 were observed with WFC3, thus nullifying cross-instrument zeropoint errors. Other improvements include a 33% reduction in the systematic uncertainty in the maser distance to NGC4258, more Cepheids and a more robust distance to the LMC from late-type DEBs, HST observations of Cepheids in M31, and new HST-based trigonometric parallaxes for Milky Way (MW) Cepheids. We consider four geometric distance calibrations of Cepheids: (i) megamasers in NGC4258, (ii) 8 DEBs in the LMC, (iii) 15 MW Cepheids with parallaxes, and (iv) 2 DEBs in M31. H_{0} from each is 72.02 +/- 2.51, 71.82 +/- 2.67, 75.91 +/- 2.37, and 74.31 +/- 3.27 km/sec/Mpc, respectively. Our best estimate of 73.00 +/- 1.75 km/sec/Mpc combines the anchors NGC4258, MW, and LMC, and includes systematic errors for a final uncertainty of 2.4%. This value is 3.3 sigma higher than 66.93 +/- 0.62 km/sec/Mpc predicted by LambdaCDM with 3 neutrinos with mass 0.06 eV and the Planck data, but reduces to 2.0 sigma relative to the prediction of 69.3 +/- 0.7 km/sec/Mpc with the combination of WMAP + ACT + SPT + BAO, suggesting systematic uncertainties in CMB measurements may play a role in the tension. If we take the conflict between Planck and H_{0} at face value, one plausible explanation could involve an additional source of dark radiation in the early Universe in the range of Delta N_{eff} = 0.4 – 1. We anticipate significant improvements in H_{0} from upcoming parallax measurements.

Anybody remember Universe – The Infinite Frontier?

That was probably the best introductory astronomy series ever. I practically earned a BS degree at the St. Petersburg Community college watching that over and over again, endlessly taping it onto extended (six hour) play VHS cassettes on my VCR.

Obviously my preferred hypthesis is a quantum critical Higgs leading to quantum critical black hole collapse, with only the standard model remaining at the electroweak scale, along with a bunch of axions and gravitons of varying mass, hopefully at the eV scale and the low TeV scale.

Gravitational manipulation via bosonic axion fields and axion excitation anyone?