The myth of an expanding and accelerating universe and dark energy


Astronomers are convinced that space is expanding, and that this expansion is accelerating, caused by a mysterious force called “dark energy”.  They are so convinced that the scientists who proposed this concept received a Nobel Prize.

But there is an alternate explanation for the observations which led to this conclusion which has not been considered, and which does not require an expanding universe, an acceleration of this expansion or dark energy as a cause.   The following will explain this alternate explanation.

The basis for the claim of an expanding universe

For years astronomers have been studying a particular kind of supernova called type SN 1a.  The light curves of this type of supernova are so consistent and similar that given the distance to any particular supernova, they can reliably predict the luminosity (peak light output) of the supernova.  They are considered “standard candles”, which can be reliably used to observe and categorize any other type SN 1a supernova.

Figure 1 - Typical light curves of Type SN 1a supernova.

These light curves have been very useful for studying this type of supernova with a redshift less than 0.5 (z < 0.5).  However, a few Type SN 1a supernovae with redshifts z > 0.5 have been found which do not fit this pattern.  In effect they are too bright for the distances estimated for them by the Hubble law.  This is illustrated in the next figure.


accelerating universe

Figure 2 - Illustrating how high-redshift supernovae do not follow the same light curves of low-redshift supernovae.

The explanation put forth by astronomers is that not only is space expanding, but this expansion is actually accelerating!  And this acceleration is fueled by a mysterious force called “dark energy”.  This explanation was awarded a Nobel Prize for its discoverers.

An Alternate Explanation

There is an alternate explanation for the observations which does not require an expanding space, acceleration of this expansion, or dark energy that has not been considered by astronomers.  It involves the deflection of a supernova image by a neutron star, and a resulting increase in redshift of the false image due to the deflection.  The following will hopefully make this clear:

Deflection of light by a neutron star

The deflection of starlight by the gravitational field of the sun is well established, and is the basis for the high esteem held for Albert Einstein and his General Theory of Relativity.  The deflection measured for starlight just grazing the surface of the sun was 1.75 arc seconds, or about 1/2000 of a degree.  Because this is a very small amount, astronomers generally ignore light deflection by distant objects as insignificant.

However, the gravitational field near the surface of a neutron star is very much greater than that near the sun (many millions of times greater).  As a result, light passing very near the surface of a neutron star can be deflected as much as 30 degrees or more.


Figure 3 - The deflection of light at the surface of a neutron star. The actual deflection may be 30 degrees or more.

This extreme deflection of an image provides the potential for creating optical illusions in space, as illustrated in the next figure:


Figure 4 - Illustrating how the gravitational field of a neutron star or black hole can create an optical illusion which would appear to be very distant supernova with a very high redshift and reduced luminosity.

Redshift of an optical illusion

Something that has not been realized before is that a deflected light beam, as shown in Figure 4, will be highly redshifted!  The reasoning is fairly straightforward.  Einstein based his deflection equation on his knowledge that light passing through a gravitational field will experience a deceleration (gravity drag).  This fact was generally ignored until 1964, when Dr. Irwin Shapiro proved that a light beam passing very near the surface of the sun would experience a delay of approximately 100 microseconds. This was called the Shapiro effect or Shapiro delay, and has been verified many times[1].  This means that the velocity of the light beam has been reduced by a small amount as it passes through a gravitational field.. This velocity reduction is permanent, and results in a reduction in the energy of the light beam. In the case of the sun, too small to be measured. In the case of the extremely strong gravitational field near a neutron star, very high.

What has been overlooked by the scientific community is that this velocity reduction, so small near the sun, is much greater for light passing very near a neutron star or black hole.  Light, which is deflected a large amount near the surface of a neutron star, also experiences a significant loss of velocity.  This velocity loss, when observed on earth, results in a loss of energy---a redshift

In other words, light deflected by a strong gravitational field is redshifted, and in the case of the high-redshift supernova, is the cause for the excess redshift of the observed high-redshift supernova.  These are actually optical illusions, and are not caused by an expansion of space, acceleration of space expansion or dark energy.


The realization that deflected light is redshifted, which to my knowledge has never before been described, can potentially provide explanations for many observations in the heavens that otherwise have been misinterpreted. For example, very distant (i.e. high redshift) galaxies may be actually optical illusions caused by the deflection of light by compact bodies such as neutron and dwarf stars, and black holes.  This may also be an explanation for the high redshift of quasars, which may be simply optical illusions of some distant star or galaxy.  See How to create a Quasar.


Whatever may be found in the future, it remains that recent observations of high-redshift SN 1a supernova do not support the concept of an expansion of space, acceleration of this expansion, or of dark energy, which may in fact not exist.

The award of the Nobel prize for this discovery appears to be premature.  The concept of an accelerating universe and dark energy is based on observations of just a few supernova over a several month period. To completely redefine the universe based on such limited data seems highly presumptive at best. In this article I have presented a highly plausible alternate explanation for the observations, one that does not require an accelerating universe or dark energy..


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[1] See