Age of universe is 26.7 — not 13.7 — billion years, claims new study

The discovery challenges the dominant cosmological model and explains the existence of ancient stars observed by the Webb Telescope.
Sade Agard
Cosmic illustration
Cosmic illustration


Our universe might be twice as old as previously believed, according to a recent study published in the Royal Astronomical Society.

This discovery challenges the prevailing cosmological model used to estimate the universe's age and provides a new perspective on the perplexing "impossible early galaxy problem."

The age of the Universe

In the past, scientists estimated the age of our universe by measuring the time since the Big Bang and studying the oldest stars through the redshift of light from distant galaxies. 

In 2021, the prevailing Lambda-CDM concordance model estimated the universe's age at 13.797 billion years.

However, the existence of stars like Methuselah, which appear older than the estimated universe age, and the discovery of early galaxies with advanced states of evolution have puzzled scientists. 

These galaxies observed just 300 million years after the Big Bang, possess levels of maturity and mass typically associated with billions of years of cosmic evolution. Additionally, they are oddly small in size, creating further mystery.

Age of universe is 26.7 — not 13.7 — billion years, claims new study
This "Methuselah star," cataloged as HD 140283, which appear older than the estimated universe age.

Zwicky's tired light theory suggests that the redshift of light from distant galaxies occurs because photons gradually lose energy during their journey across immense cosmic distances. However, this theory has been found to contradict observational evidence.

Now, Rajendra Gupta, a physicist at the University of Ottawa, has introduced a new model that extends the formation time of galaxies by several billion years.

"Our newly-devised model stretches the galaxy formation time by several billion years, making the universe 26.7 billion years old, and not 13.7 as previously estimated," he said in a press release.  

Gupta explained that his approach allows the redshift theory to coexist with the expanding universe. This way, "it becomes possible to reinterpret the redshift as a hybrid phenomenon, rather than purely due to expansion," he explained.

Furthermore, Gupta introduces the concept of evolving "coupling constants," a hypothesis initially put forward by Paul Dirac.

By allowing these constants to vary, Gupta extends the duration during which early galaxies, observed by the James Webb Space Telescope, could have formed. This expanded timeframe helps explain their advanced level of development and substantial mass.

Furthermore, Gupta proposes revising the traditional interpretation of the cosmological constant, representing dark energy responsible for the universe's accelerating expansion.

Instead, he proposes a constant that considers the evolution of coupling constants. This adjustment in the cosmological model addresses the puzzle of small galaxy sizes in the early universe, leading to more accurate observations.

The complete study was published in the Royal Astronomical Society on July 7, 2023, and can be found here.

Study abstract:

Deep space observations of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have revealed that the structure and masses of very early Universe galaxies at high redshifts (⁠z∼15�∼15⁠), existing at ∼∼0.3 Gyr after the BigBang, may be as evolved as the galaxies in existence for ∼10∼10 Gyr. The JWST findings are thus in strong tension with the ΛΛCDM cosmological model. While tired light (TL) models have been shown to comply with the JWST angular galaxy size data, they cannot satisfactorily explain isotropy of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) observations or fit the supernovae distance modulus vs. redshift data well. We have developed hybrid models that include the tired light concept in the expanding universe. The hybrid ΛΛCDM model fits the supernovae type 1a data well but not the JWST observations. We present a model with covarying coupling constants (CCC), starting from the modified FLRW metric and resulting Einstein and Friedmann equations, and a CCC + TL hybrid model. They fit the Pantheon + data admirably, and the CCC + TL model is compliant with the JWST observations. It stretches the age of the universe to 26.7 Gyr with 5.8 Gyr at z=10�=10 and 3.5 Gyr at z=20�=20⁠, giving enough time to form massive galaxies. It thus resolves the 'impossible early galaxy' problem without requiring the existence of primordial black hole seeds or modified power spectrum, rapid formation of massive population III stars, and super Eddington accretion rates. One could infer the CCC model as an extension of the ΛΛCDM model with a dynamic cosmological constant

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