Tuesday, August 11, 2020

13.8 billion years: Age of the universe confirmed by scientists in new study

The ACT research team, an international collaboration between scientists from 41 institutions around the world, has confirmed that the age of the universe is about 13.8 billion years old. The findings that were published confirms the age that was previously only approximated to be around 13.8 billion years. The new research was published in a series of papers (published to arXiv.org) led by the ACT research team and was made possible by observations from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) in Chile.

The determination was made after the scientists studied an image of the oldest light of the universe, known as the “afterglow” of the Big Bang. The afterglow is estimated to have formed 380,000 years after the start of the universe.

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A team from Stony Brook University played a crucial role in analyzing the afterglow light in the image. “In Stony Brook-led work we are restoring the ‘baby photo’ of the universe to its original condition, eliminating the wear and tear of time and space that distorted the image,” Professor Sehgal, co-author on the papers, says. “Only by seeing this sharper baby photo or image of the universe, can we more fully understand how our universe was born.”

The observations of the afterglow made using the ACT match the Planck satellite data of the same. Aiola, a researcher at NYC’s Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics, says that this is the answer where the ACT and Planck data agree upon. Aiola also says that this proves that these measurements are reliable

This new revelation disproves the initial observations made by a research team in 2019 that measured the movement of galaxies to determine the age of the universe. The age found then was hundreds of millions of years younger than the Planck team’s (and now ACT team’s) prediction. That raised concerns that a new model might be required for determining the age of the universe.

Astronomers will eventually have clearer pictures of the afterglow as ACT continues to make observations. The ACT research is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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