OCT 09, 2019 5:06 PM PDT

How Astronomers Determine the Universe's Age

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

The universe is so old and so large that the Earth is but an insignificant speck of dust by comparison. Astronomers are always trying to make sense of the universe by studying it and its contents with high-power space telescopes, and while we’ve learned a lot about it thus far, the fact remains that we still know very little.

Immediately following the Big Bang, the universe began expanding faster than the speed of light. That expansion continues to this very day, and as we drift farther away from the universe’s earliest matter, a particularly intriguing phenomenon called redshift occurs. This is where light emitted by that matter stretches and becomes more visible in the red light spectrum than anything else.

The farther away an object is, the redder it appears to astronomers, and this is one of the things astronomers take into account when attempting to determine just how old the universe is. Based on modern calculations, the universe could be approximately 13.8 billion years old, and this figure is already widely accepted in the scientific community.

But that number could soon change, especially considering the rather intriguing circumstances surrounding a rare, metal-poor star called Methuselah. Based on Methuselah’s evolutionary cycle, it’s estimated to be around 14.5 billion years old. If true, this could throw a serious wrench in our current understanding the universe’s age.

With upcoming observatories such as WFIRST and the James Webb Space Telescope just over the horizon, we just might get the chance to see farther into the living universe and challenge the current 13.8 billion-year theory. These observatories may even shed more light on Methuselah and help astronomers ascertain more about its age.

These are exciting times indeed.

About the Author
Other
Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 27, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Four-legged Robots May Explore the Moon
Four-legged Robots May Explore the Moon
The Legged Exploration of the Aristarchus Plateau (LEAP) mission is a concept study funded by the European Space Agency ...
NOV 05, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Earth-size Exoplanet Lacks an Atmosphere
Earth-size Exoplanet Lacks an Atmosphere
In a recent study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, an international team of researchers led by the Univer ...
NOV 18, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Can You Stand on This Star?
Can You Stand on This Star?
Polarized X-ray light from a magnetar has been observed for the first time ever and the results have been published in a ...
DEC 16, 2022
Space & Astronomy
How Black Holes Are Formed and How We Study Them
How Black Holes Are Formed and How We Study Them
Think of the most destructive thing you know. Is it a hammer? A car crusher? A three-year-old’s tantrum? Whatever ...
JAN 12, 2023
Space & Astronomy
"Bright Spots" of Ceres | Solar System Wonders
"Bright Spots" of Ceres | Solar System Wonders
The eight planets and 200-plus moons that populate our solar system aren't the only locations that exhibit awe-inspiring ...
JAN 11, 2023
Space & Astronomy
Binary Black Hole Pair Resolved in the Center of Nearby Galaxy Merger
Binary Black Hole Pair Resolved in the Center of Nearby Galaxy Merger
A team of astronomers have found a pair of supermassive black holes near the center of a newly forming galaxy. The black ...
Loading Comments...