Key takeaways

  • A new study suggests the universe might be 26.7 billion years old, not 13.7 billion as previously thought.
  • The new model extends galaxy formation time by billions of years, addressing the “impossible early galaxy problem.”
  • Observations of ancient stars and early galaxies, previously puzzling, fit better with this older universe model.
  • Combining Zwicky’s weary light hypothesis with the expanding universe offers a new interpretation of redshift.
  • Allowing coupling constants to evolve over time provides a better explanation for early galaxy development and dark energy’s role.

Our universe might be twice as ancient as current estimates, according to a new study that questions the prevalent cosmological model and throws fresh insight on the so-called “impossible early galaxy problem.”

The study was published in the Royal Astronomical Society’s journal, Monthly Notices.

“Our newly developed model stretches the galaxy formation time by several billion years, making the universe 26.7 billion years old, rather than 13.7 as previously estimated,” explains author Rajendra Gupta, adjunct professor of physics in the Faculty of Science at the University of Ottawa.

For years, astronomers and physicists have determined the age of our universe by calculating the time since the Big Bang and examining the oldest stars using the redshift of light from distant galaxies. Using the Lambda-CDM concordance model, the age of our universe was calculated to be 13.797 billion years in 2021 due to new techniques and technological developments.

However, many scientists have been perplexed by the existence of stars like Methuselah, which appear to be older than the estimated age of our universe, as well as the finding of early galaxies in advanced stages of evolution made possible by the James Webb Space Telescope. These galaxies, which exist just around 300 million years after the Big Bang, appear to have a level of maturity and mass typically associated with billions of years of cosmic evolution. Furthermore, they’re surprisingly small in size, adding another layer of mystery to the equation.

Zwicky’s weary light hypothesis posits that the redshift of light from distant galaxies is caused by photons gradually losing energy across enormous cosmic distances. However, it was found to be in disagreement with observations. However, Gupta determined that “by allowing this theory to coexist with the expanding universe, it becomes possible to reinterpret the redshift as a hybrid phenomenon, rather than purely due to expansion.”

In addition to Zwicky’s weary light theory, Gupta presents the concept of changing “coupling constants,” which was proposed by Paul Dirac. Coupling constants are basic physical constants that control particle interactions. According to Dirac, these constants may have changed throughout time. Allowing them to develop increases the timescale for the birth of early galaxies detected by the Webb telescope at high redshifts from a few hundred million to several billion years. This gives a more plausible explanation for the advanced development and mass seen in these old galaxies.

Furthermore, Gupta contends that the standard understanding of the “cosmological constant,” which symbolizes dark energy responsible for the universe’s accelerated expansion, requires correction. Instead, he suggests a constant that explains the development of the coupling constants. This change to the cosmological model helps to solve the riddle of tiny galaxy sizes reported in the early cosmos, allowing for more precise measurements.

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