The universe is older than we thought — 100 million years older than previous estimates, bringing its age to the grand total of 13.8 billion years. Planck, a European Space Agency mission, and NASA released a new, highly detailed map of the entire universe on Thursday, which included information from the oldest light in the universe.
We’ve heard a lot about the problem of missing mass over the years, but the new map shows that there is more matter than we previously believed. Based on the first 15-1/2 months of observations, the map revealed a great many seeds of ancient galaxies and galactic clusters.
In accordance with Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, gravity actually pulls on light waves as well as matter. That’s why a map of the matter in the universe can also give us clues about the age of light from distance galaxies.
In addition to being older, the universe appears to be expanding somewhat more slowly than previously thought.
The announcement comes two weeks after NASA’s Hubble Space telescope revealed that they had calculated the age of the oldest known star so far discovered in the universe. That star is believed to have formed in the second wave of stars that ever existed. The first generation of stars is thought to have survived only a few million years — a flash in the pan in astronomical terms.
Want to see the whole universe at a glance? Here’s a copy of the full-sky map of the matter between our earth and the edge of the universe. The grayed-out areas are actually the bright areas of our own Milky Way galaxy, which cause so much light pollution that we can’t detect data from more distant areas of the universe in those regions.
Are you surprised to learn that the universe is around 13.8 billion years old? Our older universe is more evidence that it’s always later than you think.
[Image credit Map of Universe: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech]
[Image Credit of Hoag’s Object Galaxy: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)]