A discrepancy between galactic distances in the infant universe and more modern measurements suggests the universe is expanding at a faster pace than previously predicted.

Astronomers recently used the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the distance between 19 galaxies with unprecedented accuracy. The numbers suggest the universe is expanding between 5 and 9 percent faster than the rate derived from galactic distances measured in the early universe, just after the Big Bang.

Researchers believe the discrepancy may offer insights into the nature of dark matter.

“This surprising finding may be an important clue to understanding those mysterious parts of the universe that make up 95 percent of everything and don’t emit light, such as dark energy, dark matter, and dark radiation,” Adam Riess, an astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University, said in a news release.

Dark matter and the dark energy it carries may explain the acceleration of the universe’s expansion.

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