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  1. How Do We Know the Earth Is 4.6 Billion Years Old?
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  3. Earth’s Calendar Year: billion years compressed into 12 months - Biomimicry

So after This adds another layer to the problem; not only is there a ton of stuff that emits light, but those light-emitting objects can move relative to one another.


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Since they can move up to but not quite at the speed of light, by the rules of special relativity, while the light moves towards you at the speed of light, you can imagine seeing twice as far as in the first case. Perhaps the objects now could be as far as The different possible fates of the Universe, with our actual, accelerating fate shown at the right. This last layer is the counterintuitive one that most people have the hardest time with.

Yes, space is full of matter, which quickly clumps into stars, galaxies and even larger structures.


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Yes, all of this matter can move through space, mostly due to the mutual gravitational attraction of different overdense and underdense regions on one another. All of that is true, just as it was in the second scenario. The "flows" of galaxies mapped out with the mass field nearby.

How Do We Know the Earth Is 4.6 Billion Years Old?

But there's something extra, too. When you look out at a distant galaxy, and see that galaxy is redder than normal, the common way of thinking about it is that the galaxy is red because it's moving away from us, and hence the light is shifted to longer redder wavelengths the same way a siren moving away from you has its sound shifted to longer wavelengths and lower pitches. But that's still part of explanation 2; General Relativity adds that extra element in of space expanding. An illustration of how redshifts work in the expanding Universe.

And as the Universe expands, the fabric of space stretches, and those individual light waves in that space see their wavelengths stretch as well! You might think it's impossible to tell these two effects apart. If all you can measure is the wavelength of the light as it reaches your eye, how can you tell whether it's due to motion or due to the fabric of space? As it turns out, there's a relationship that exists between the redshift and hence the wavelength and the observed brightness of the galaxy, which is a function of distance.

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In a non-expanding Universe, as we covered earlier, the maximum distance we can observe is twice the age of the Universe in light years: But in the Universe we have today, we've already observed galaxies more distant than that! So how far can we see in any direction? But in a Universe with dark energy, that gets pushed out to an even greater number: 46 billion light years for the observed dark energy our cosmos possesses. Special relativity dotted and general relativity solid predictions for distances in the Put that all together, and this means the distance we can see in the Universe, from one distant end to the other, is 92 billion light years across.

And don't forget: it's continuing to expand! The size of our visible Universe yellow , along with the amount we can reach magenta. The fact that space itself is expanding, and that new space is constantly getting created in between the bound galaxies, groups and clusters in the cosmos, is how the Universe got to be as big as it is to our eyes. Given what's in it, what governs it and how it came to be, it couldn't have turned out any other way. The relativistic derivation of that figure, that.

Until we discovered nuclear fusion, however, we could not accurately estimate the Sun's age. When the calculations were fully worked out, we realized that the Sun's lifetime would be something more like billion years, and that we were about 4. The ages of the Sun from astronomy , the Earth from geology , and life from biology all lined up in a consistent, coherent picture. The Sun, the Earth, and the history of life on our world all have a consistent age today, but back We have two ways to calculate the age of the Universe today: to look at the ages of the individual stars and galaxies within it, and to look at the physics of the expanding Universe.

The stars themselves are the less precise metric, as we can only view them at one instant in time, and then extrapolate stellar evolution backwards. This is useful when we have large populations of stars, like globular clusters, but is more difficult for individual stars.

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The method is simple: when large populations of stars are born together, they come in all different sizes and colors, from hot, massive, and blue, to cool, small, and red. As time goes on, the more massive stars burn through their fuel the fastest, and so they begin to evolve and, later, die. If we look at the survivors, therefore, we can date how old a population of stars is.

Many globular clusters have ages in excess of 12 billion years, with some even exceeding 13 billion years. In , a set of nine stars near the Milky Way's center were dated to have formed And controversially, there's the Methuselah star , which comes in at a surprising But there's a better, more precise way to measure the age of the Universe: through its cosmic expansion. The four possible fates of our Universe into the future; the last one appears to be the Universe we What's in the Universe, along with the laws of physics, determines not only how the Universe evolves, but how old it is.

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By measuring what's in the Universe today, how distant objects appear to move, and how the light from them behaves nearby, at intermediate distances, and for the greatest distances observable, we can reconstruct the expansion history of the Universe. We also know how these components evolve in time, and that the Universe obeys the laws of General Relativity.

Earth’s Calendar Year: billion years compressed into 12 months - Biomimicry

Combine those pieces of information, and a single, compelling picture of our cosmic origins emerge. Three different types of measurements, distant stars and galaxies, the large scale structure of the For a few seconds, the Universe was an ionized mess of particles and antiparticles, which eventually cooled and allowed the formation of leftover atomic nuclei after a few minutes.

After , years, the first stable, neutral atoms formed. Over tens to hundreds of millions of years, gravitational attraction brought this matter together into stars and then galaxies. And over billions of years further, galaxies merged and grew to give us the Universe we see today. With the data collected from a variety of sources, including the cosmic microwave background, the large-scale clustering of galaxies, distant supernovae, and baryon acoustic oscillations, we arrive at a single, compelling picture: a Universe that's The cosmic history of the entire known Universe shows that we owe the origin of all the matter Since then, we've had There are some uncertainties that go beyond what gets reported by, say, Wikipedia , which quotes our Universe as being That 21 million year uncertainty could easily get five-to-ten times as large if there's a systematic mistake that's been made somewhere.

Depending on the resolution to these puzzles, it's conceivable that the Universe could be as young as