Edward A Milne at the Oxford University proposed that what Hubble was observing was simply a natural sorting of random galactic motions. If a group of galaxies formed together moving at various speeds, it was natural that the fastest ones would now be the most distant, while the slow-moving ones would remain nearby.

Source: https://aeon.co/essays/how-they-pinned-a-single-momentous-number-on-the-universe

Why is this incorrect?

I understand that gravity wouldn't normally allow expansion at constant velocity, but we have already conjectured dark energy to account for that.


The simplest answer is that Milne's explanation requires a non-uniform cosmos, with a formerly crowded "starting area" that expands into empty space. Observations indicate that the cosmos is nearly uniform at very large scales. With Milne's model of a non-expanding space and uniform cosmos, galaxies that started near to us with high velocities that ended up far away would be replaced by galaxies that started far away and ended up near, so there would be no observable relationship between distance and velocity.

There is a slew of other observational evidence against the naivete' of Milne's model, of course. The cosmic microwave background shows that space use to be dense and hot; galaxies evolve, interact, and combine over time; there are intergalactic clouds that influence galaxies' trajectories. Only when you can account for all that does incorporating elements like dark energy into your model make sense.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Could antlersoft cite sources that support the phrase "there are intergalactic clouds that influence galaxies' trajectory"? Does this statement suggest that galaxy-mass gas clouds retain shape and mass integrity over the time scales required to affect a galaxy's trajectory in a clustered environment? $\endgroup$ – Douglas Bullis Jan 10 '20 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, such a clear and beautiful answer! Thank you so much :) Could you throw some more light on why "cosmic microwave background shows that space use to be dense and hot"? $\endgroup$ – Ritesh Singh Jan 13 '20 at 16:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.