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
  • 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
OCT 05, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 05, 2019
Catastrophic Ancient Events Might Have Forever Changed Life-friendly Venus
There is plenty of evidence suggesting that Venus had a long history of being a habitable planet due to its abundance of water, plate tectonics, and amicab...
OCT 06, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 06, 2019
Woman-Only Spacewalk Will Transpire October 21st, NASA Says
NASA was expected to orchestrate the world’s first all-female spacewalk at the International Space Station earlier this year, but was unfortunately u...
NOV 04, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 04, 2019
What You Need to Know About NASA's Upcoming WFIRST Space Telescope
There are several space telescopes observing the cosmos at the very time of this writing, and there are plans to launch even more of them in the near futur...
NOV 24, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 24, 2019
SpaceX's Starship Prototype Explodes During Pressure Test
SpaceX is best known for its Falcon-series of rockets that often resupply the International Space Station and ferry satellites into space to deploy an orbi...
DEC 02, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 02, 2019
The Air Force's X-37B Plane Spent 780 Days in Space, But Why?
The United States Air Force regularly conducts top-secret missions and science experiments on behalf of the federal government. One of the military branch&...
FEB 04, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
FEB 04, 2020
A Gamma-Ray Burst Like Nothing Else Before
Gamma-ray bursts (GRB) are among the most explosive and energetic celestial events that have been observed by astronomers. Since its first detection back i...
Loading Comments...