(ORDO NEWS) — Observations of the cosmic microwave background by the Atacama Space Telescope in Chile suggest that the universe is 13.8 billion years old.
Astronomers have taken a fresh look at the oldest light in the universe [also known as the cosmic microwave background] with the National Science Foundation’s ASTAKA Cosmological Telescope. Their new observations plus some space geometry suggest that the universe is 13.77 billion plus minus 40 million years old.
The new estimate is consistent with the estimate provided by the standard model of the universe and measurements of the same light by the Planck satellite. This adds a new twist to the ongoing debate in the astrophysicist community, said Simona Iola, lead author of one of two new articles on the results published on arXiv.org.
In 2019, a research team measuring the motions of galaxies calculated that the universe is hundreds of millions of years younger than Planck’s team predicted. This discrepancy suggested that a new model for the universe might be required, and raised concerns that one of the set of measurements might be wrong.
The age of the universe also shows how fast space is expanding – a number measured by the Hubble constant. New measurements from the Atacama Space Telescope show that the Hubble constant is 67.6 kilometers per second per megaparsec.
This means that an object at a distance of 1 megaparsec (about 3.26 million light years) from Earth is moving away from us at a speed of 67.6 kilometers per second due to the expansion of the universe. This result is almost the same as the previous estimate of 67.4 km / s per megaparsec made by Planck’s team, but slower than 74 km / s per megaparsec obtained from measurements of galaxies.
If scientists can estimate how far the light from the cosmic microwave background has traveled to Earth, they can calculate the age of the universe. This is easier said than done. It is difficult to judge cosmic distances from the Earth.
So instead, scientists measure the angle in the sky between two distant objects when the Earth and two objects form a cosmic triangle. If astronomers also know the physical separation between these objects, they can use geometry to estimate the objects’ distance from Earth.
Subtle variations in the cosmic microwave background glow offer anchor points for the formation of the other two vertices of the triangle. These changes in temperature and polarization were the result of quantum fluctuations in the early universe that were amplified by the expanding universe in regions of varying density. (The denser regions will form clusters of galaxies.) Scientists have studied the early years of the universe well enough to know that these changes in the cosmic microwave background would typically have to be spaced every billion light years for temperature and half that for polarization.
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