December 3, 2023

A new study by University of Ottawa’s Rajendra Gupta based on data from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) revives a nearly century-old hypothesis, suggesting that the universe may be two years older than previously thought. times.

Cosmology generally believes that according to the redshift caused by the four-dimensional expansion of the universe, the big bang occurred 13.797 billion years ago. However, like most things in the rare frontier of advanced physics, nothing is set in stone, as there are gaps in our understanding of some very fundamental properties of the universe, and there are many anomalies to explain.

One of these anomalies is the “impossible early galaxy problem,” proposed by JWST’s monitoring of small galaxies thought to have formed 300 million years ago but appear to be as mature as galaxies a billion years ago . Another anomaly is HD 140283, also known as Methuselah, which could be as young as 12 billion years old, or as old as 14.46 billion years old—older than the universe itself.

To explain these anomalies, Gupta revived a controversial idea called the “fatigue light hypothesis” in a new hybrid form. Fatigue light was proposed by Fritz Zwicky in 1929 as an alternative to the theory of the expansion of the universe.

The basic idea is that the expansion-induced redshift is the result of light traveling through the universe losing energy as photons interact with dust, gas, or energy fields. In other words, the universe could be static and expansion just an illusion.

The idea was never embraced by physicists, who have long pointed out that there are many problems with tired light, including that it should cause stars and galaxies to blur, and that it cannot account for variations in light. The changing brightness of the sky over time, the asymmetry of the universe, the heat spectrum, and the presence of cosmic background radiation.

Now Gupta has brought this idea back, adding it to Paul Dirac’s The equation deals with the interaction of particles at the quantum level and shows that the coupling constant in the equation may vary with time due to another previously unknown constant. This could change the redshift and push back the observed age of the universe to 26.7 billion years.

How accurate this assumed age is remains to be seen, but if you bought any condiments during the Big Bang, you might want to double-check the expiration date.

The study was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

source: University of Ottawa