A new study by scientists at the University of Ottawa suggests that the universe is actually twice as old as we previously thought, at around 26.7 billion years old, reports popularmechanics.com.
Rajendra Gupta, adjunct professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, bring into the calculus a 1929 theory from Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky. The theory claims that photons get “tired” as they travel across vast distances, and lose energy over the course of billions of years.
While this conflicts with observable redshift data, Gupta says 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 a press release.
His results were published earlier this month in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Increasing the universe’s age could help explain some long-standing cosmological quandaries, as well as some new ones discovered by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
One of the oldest stars known to science, fittingly named Methuselah is, by some estimates, somehow older than the known universe. Obviously, that is impossible, though margins of error could place it before the Big Bang. And Methuselah isn’t the only cosmological anomaly.
New JWST data also revealed at least six galaxies way too massive for how early they formed in the Universe’s past.
These anomalies could suggest that errors were made in the calculations of these objects’ masses or ages. Or, it could mean that the universe is simply older than we think.
To arrive at 26.7 billion years, Gupta combines the “tired” light theory with the idea of evolving “coupling constants.”
This concept was originally proposed by theoretical physicist Paul Dirac, and suggests that interactions between particles might have varied over time.