The universe is 13.77 billion years old, according to a new measurement taken using a powerful telescope in Chile.
Why is this important: The precise age of the universe is an important factor for scientists trying to understand the evolution and expansion of the cosmos.
What they found: The Atacama Cosmological Telescope performed the measurement by observing fluctuations in the microwave cosmic background (CMB), the glow left after the Big Bang formed the universe.
- The researchers used the telescope to efficiently create a triangle in the sky, measuring the distances between Earth and two points of interest in the CMB, and then extrapolating the distance between the two points.
- Because the universe is expanding, measuring distances gives scientists an idea of how quickly this change is occurring and therefore the age of the universe.
- The new research is detailed in a study published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.
The big picture: Scientists have been mired in a debate about the speed of the universe’s expansion – a number known as the Hubble constant.
- Dating the universe to 13.77 billion years ago matches the age of the universe previously estimated using data from the Planck satellite, but other methods that measure distances between stars have dated the universe as being significantly younger.
- “We have now found an answer where Planck and ACT [Atacama Cosmology Telescope] okay, “Simone Aiola, author of the study, said in a statement.” This testifies to the fact that these difficult measurements are reliable. “
And after: Scientists continue to collect data and verify their analyzes in an attempt to resolve the conflict over the Hubble constant.
- “The growing tension between these distant and local measurements of the Hubble constant suggests that we may be on the verge of a new discovery in cosmology that could change our understanding of how the Universe works,” said Michael Niemack, author of the study in the statement.