By Mayank Chhaya-
It is a good thing that the universe has no anthropomorphic hang-ups about its age because it is now calculated to be twice as old so far accepted.
In recalculating the age of the universe to be 26.7 billion years instead of the previously held 13.797 billion years Ottawa University physics professor Rajendra Gupta has proposed a remarkable new explanation to some deeply confounding discoveries made by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
The Webb recently revealed early galaxies in an advanced state of evolution barely 300 million years after the Big Bang. That threw off the astrophysics community because these galaxies demonstrated a level of maturity they ought not to have had so soon after the universe itself was said to have come into being. The mass of these galaxies would be typically found billions of years into their cosmic evolution.
Complicating even more the question of the age of the universe is the presence of stars such as the Methuselah which is at least a billion years older than the universe itself. How could a star be older than the universe? It is like saying a child is older than the mother.
That is where Professor Gupta stepped in with a new model which “stretches the galaxy formation time by several billion years, making the universe 26.7 billion years old, and not 13.7 as previously estimated.”
Gupta said for years, astronomers and physicists have calculated the age of our universe by measuring the time elapsed since the Big Bang and by studying the oldest stars based on the redshift of light coming from distant galaxies. In 2021, thanks to new techniques and advances in technology, the age of our universe was thus estimated at 13.797 billion years using the Lambda-CDM concordance model.
As part of his model, he turned to a theory first proposed by the Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky in 1929 known as tired light theory. In a sense he reinterprets the redshift, or the light stretched by the expanding universe into red end of the electromagnetic spectrum, as a hybrid phenomenon, rather than purely due to expansion. As per his paper published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) on July 7 the tired light theory can coexist with the expanding universe to arrive at its real age of 26.7 billion years.
“In addition to Zwicky’s tired light theory, Gupta introduces the idea of evolving “coupling constants,” as hypothesized by Paul Dirac. Coupling constants are fundamental physical constants that govern the interactions between particles. According to Dirac, these constants might have varied over time. By allowing them to evolve, the timeframe for the formation of early galaxies observed by the Webb telescope at high redshifts can be extended from a few hundred million years to several billion years. This provides a more feasible explanation for the advanced level of development and mass observed in these ancient galaxies,” a backgrounder explained.
It also said, “Moreover, Gupta suggests that the traditional interpretation of the “cosmological constant,” which represents dark energy responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe, needs revision. Instead, he proposes a constant that accounts for the evolution of the coupling constants. This modification in the cosmological model helps address the puzzle of small galaxy sizes observed in the early universe, allowing for more accurate observations.”
By coupling both the tired light model as well as the expansion model, Professor Gupta appears to have created a model that fits well with the startling discoveries about the early universe made by the JWST. He told Indica News that he is more interested in criticism of his approach rather than just celebration of it since science advances via disagreements driven by demonstrable evidence.
indica News asked him if his paper might lead to the reinstatement of some measure of the steady state theory of the universe first proposed in 1948 by Fred Hoyle, Thomas Gold and Hermann Bondi. Incidentally, the steady state theory holds that the universe, while constantly expanding, maintains a constant density even as new matter continues to create stars and galaxies
“What is the hybrid of expansion and steady state? It means that the universe is expanding more slowly. If you combine the two where one theory says it is expanding very fast and the other says no, then you get a slowly expanding universe. At the same time a lot of findings of the Big Bang will remain. There is no doubt about that,” he told Indica News.
Meanwhile, the doubling of the age of the universe courtesy of Professor Gupta has created a great deal of buzz in the scientific community. He said his subsequent work after the publication of the paper confirms the idea of the age of the universe being almost twice what was accepted until recently.
On a somewhat speculative note, Gupta was asked about the implications of a much older universe for the evolution of more advanced civilizations before ours. He answered it saying what could have happened in 26.7 billion years could have equally happened in 13.797 billion years as well. In other words, in and of itself an older universe is not necessarily more conducive to creating more advanced civilizations than the younger one.
[Photo courtesy: Ottawa University Adjunct Professor Rajendra Gupta (Photo: uottawa.ca)]