PARIS — New results from looking at the split-second after the Big Bang indicate the universe is 80 million years older than previously thought and provide ancient evidence supporting core concepts about the cosmos — how it began, what it’s made of and where it’s going.
The findings released Thursday bolster a key theory called inflation, which says the universe burst from subatomic size to its now-observable expanse in a fraction of a second. The new observations from the European Space Agency’s $900 million Planck space probe appear to reinforce some predictions made decades ago solely on the basis of mathematical concepts.
“We’ve uncovered a fundamental truth of the universe,” said George Efstathiou, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge who announced the Planck satellite mapping result in Paris. “There’s less stuff that we don’t understand by a tiny amount.”
The Big Bang says the visible portion of the universe was smaller than an atom when, in a split second, it exploded, cooled and expanded faster than the speed of light.
The Planck space probe looked back at the afterglow of the Big Bang, and those results have now added about 80 million years to the universe’s age, putting it at 13.81 billion years old.