To estimate the age of the universe, astronomers count the years since the Big Bang and study the oldest stars in the cosmos. That is why it is said that the origin of matter, space and time as we know it took place 13,797 million years ago. However, a new study challenges the dominant cosmological model by suggesting that our universe may actually be twice its estimated age. In short, about 26.7 billion years.
By marrying the existing theory of the expanding cosmos with a fringe explanation called the tired light hypothesis, theoretical physicist Rajendra Gupta discovered that the Big Bang happened much earlier than we thought. Therefore, everything that formed after the big bang should be older than current estimates.
Those extra years are puzzling, but the truth is that many scientists have proven the existence of stars older than the estimated age of our current universe. So it is possible that this new model will provide clues about the so-called “impossible problem of the first galaxies”.
The age of the universe can be calculated in the same way that we can know the birthday of a child from its height: it is enough to estimate its expansion rate. Objects in the cosmos appear slightly redder at a distance than their characteristic light patterns might lead us to expect. This is because space expands, separating those light waves like a pulled spring. The “tired light” theory suggests that the progressive loss of photon energy over enormous cosmic distances causes the redshift of light from distant galaxies. Thus, by working backwards on this estimated growth rate, it is possible to use expansion to determine when the universe was just a boiling sphere of concentrated energy.
However, Gupta found that it is possible to reinterpret this lightshift as a “hybrid phenomenon” rather than solely the result of expansion. Their hypothesis joins two models of the expanding Universe: one based on standard assumptions about the uniformity and flatness of the cosmos, and a second that introduces some adjustments related to what is known as a coupling constant.
Measurement guide for stoves models with 2, 4 or 6 burners Coupling constants describe force interactions between particles, such as how the electromagnetic fields of two protons that are in close proximity will affect each other’s behavior in specific ways. In theory, all forces in the cosmos have a coupling constant, although it is not necessarily “constant” since it changes with energy. This leaves room for the coupling constants to vary enough to affect the behavior of the light.
So if this constant has changed over time, calculations about the age of the universe could be off. In particular, the results of the Lambda-CDM concordance model that estimated the age of our universe at 13,797 million years this 2021. “Our newly devised model stretches the galaxy formation time by several billion years, making the universe 26.7 billion years old, not 13.7 billion as previously estimated. This combination of theories could even help solve why the first quasars and galaxies appear to be billions of years old.”
Although this model has been studied, it is still an interpretation. Rajendra Gupta considers that the conventional model of the “cosmological constant”, which represents the dark energy responsible for the accelerated expansion of the universe, must be updated.
For this reason, his hybrid hypothesis proposes that the universe really is as big as we think and addresses why early galaxies appear smaller than expected despite their well-developed masses. However, as happens when observations don’t quite line up with expectations, scientists throw up new ideas, and this is one of them. Whichever explanation is left in the end, it will almost certainly change the way we see our universe. After all, we are talking about billions of years that have not yet been studied after the Big Bang.