From an observatory high above Chile’s Atacama Desert, astronomers have taken a new look at the oldest light in the universe.
Their observations, plus a bit of cosmic geometry, suggest that the universe is 13.77 billion years old – give or take 40 million years. A Cornell researcher co-authored one of two papers about the findings, which add a fresh twist to an ongoing debate in the astrophysics community.
The new estimate, using data gathered at the National Science Foundation’s Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT), matches the one provided by the standard model of the universe, as well as measurements of the same light made by the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite, which measured remnants of the Big Bang from 2009 to ’13.
The research was published on December 30, 2020, in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.
The lead author of “The Atacama Cosmology Telescope: A Measurement of the Cosmic Microwave Background Power Spectra at 98 and 150 GHz” is Steve Choi, NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, in the College of Arts and Sciences.
In 2019, a research team measuring the movements of galaxies calculated that the universe is hundreds of millions of years younger than the Planck team predicted. That discrepancy suggested a new model for the universe might be needed and sparked concerns that one of the sets of measurements might be incorrect.
“Now we’ve come up with an answer where Planck and ACT agree,” said Simone Aiola, a researcher at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics and first author of one of two papers. “It speaks to the fact that these difficult measurements are reliable.”
Reference: “The Atacama Cosmology Telescope: a measurement of the Cosmic Microwave Background power spectra at 98 and 150 GHz” by Steve K. Choi, Matthew Hasselfield, Shuay-Pwu Patty Ho, Brian Koopman, Marius Lungu, Maximilian H. Abitbol, Graeme E. Addison, Peter A. R. Ade, Simone Aiola, David Alonso, Mandana Amiri, Stefania Amodeo, Elio Angile, Jason E. Austermann, Taylor Baildon, Nick Battaglia, James A. Beall, Rachel Bean, Daniel T. Becker, J Richard Bond, Sarah Marie Bruno, Erminia Calabrese, Victoria Calafut, Luis E. Campusano, Felipe Carrero, Grace E. Chesmore, Hsiao-mei Cho, Susan E. Clark, Nicholas F. Cothard, Devin Crichton, Kevin T. Crowley, Omar Darwish, Rahul Datta, Edward V. Denison, Mark J. Devlin, Cody J. Duell, Shannon M. Duff, Adriaan J. Duivenvoorden, Jo Dunkley, Rolando Dünner, Thomas Essinger-Hileman, Max Fankhanel, Simone Ferraro, Anna E. Fox, Brittany Fuzia, Patricio A. Gallardo, Vera Gluscevic, Joseph E. Golec, Emily Grace, Megan Gralla, Yilun Guan, Kirsten Hall, Mark Halpern, Dongwon Han, Peter Hargrave, Shawn Henderson, Brandon Hensley, J. Colin Hill, Gene C. Hilton, Matt Hilton, Adam D. Hincks, Renée Hložek, Johannes Hubmayr, Kevin M. Huffenberger, John P. Hughes, Leopoldo Infante, Kent Irwin, Rebecca Jackson, Jeff Klein, Kenda Knowles, Arthur Kosowsky, Vincent Lakey, Dale Li, Yaqiong Li, Zack Li, Martine Lokken, Thibaut Louis, Amanda MacInnis, Mathew Madhavacheril, Felipe Maldonado, Maya Mallaby-Kay, Danica Marsden, Loïc Maurin, Jeff McMahon, Felipe Menanteau, Kavilan Moodley, Tim Morton, Sigurd Naess, Toshiya Namikawa, Federico Nati, Laura Newburgh, John P. Nibarger, Andrina Nicola, Michael D. Niemack, Michael R. Nolta, John Orlowski-Sherer, Lyman A. Page, Christine G. Pappas, Bruce Partridge, Phumlani Phakathi, Heather Prince, Roberto Puddu, Frank J. Qu, Jesus Rivera, Naomi Robertson, Felipe Rojas, Maria Salatino, Emmanuel Schaan, Alessandro Schillaci, Benjamin L. Schmitt, Neelima Sehgal, Blake D. Sherwin, Carlos Sierra, Jon Sievers, Cristobal Sifon, Precious Sikhosana, Sara Simon, David N. Spergel, Suzanne T. Staggs, Jason Stevens, Emilie Storer, Dhaneshwar D. Sunder, Eric R. Switzer, Ben Thorne, Robert Thornton, Hy Trac, Jesse Treu, Carole Tucker, Leila R. Vale, Alexander Van Engelen, Jeff Van Lanen, Eve M. Vavagiakis, Kasey Wagoner, Yuhan Wang, Jonathan T. Ward, Edward J. Wollack, Zhilei Xu, Fernando Zago and Ningfeng Zhu, 30 December 2020, Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.