'Tired light' might make the universe twice as old as we thought

'Tired light' might make the universe twice as old as we thought
Galaxies as seen by JWST
Galaxies as seen by JWST
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Galaxies as seen by JWST
Galaxies as seen by JWST

Reviving an almost century-old hypothesis, a new study led by Rajendra Gupta at the University of Ottawa based on data from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) suggests that the universe may be twice as old as previously thought.

It's commonly accepted in cosmological circles that the Big Bang occurred 13.797 billion years ago, based on the redshift caused by the expansion of the universe in four dimensions. However, like most things in the rarefied frontiers of advanced physics, nothing is set in stone because there are gaps in our knowledge of some very basic properties of the cosmos and there are any number of anomalies to be accounted for.

One of these anomalies is the "impossible early galaxy problem," which is raised by small galaxies spied on by the JWST that are thought to have formed 300 million years after the Big Bang, yet seem to be as mature as billion-year-old galaxies. Another anomaly is HD 140283, also called the Methuselah Star, which may be as young as 12 billion years, or as old as a troubling 14.46 billion years – older than the universe itself.

To explain these anomalies, Gupta has revived a controversial idea called the 'tired light hypothesis' in a new hybrid form. Tired light was conceived of by Fritz Zwicky in 1929 as an alternative to the expanding universe theory.

The basic idea is that the red shift attributed to the expansion is the result of light traversing the universe losing energy as the photons interact with dust, gas, or energy fields. In other words, the universe could be static and the expansion is merely an illusion.

It's an idea that has never sat well with physicists, who pointed out early on that there were a number of problems with tired light, including that it should have resulted in stars and galaxies blurring, and that it couldn't account for the changing of the sky's brightness over time, the asymmetry of the universe, its thermal spectrum, and the existence and cosmic background radiation.

Now Gupta has brought the idea back by adding it to Paul Dirac's equation that involves the interaction of particles on a quantum level and suggests that the coupling constants in the equation could change over time due to another previously unknown constant. This could alter the red shift and push back the observed age of the universe to as old as 26.7 billion years.

How well this hypothetical age stands up remains to be seen but if you bought any condiments around the time of the Big Bang, you may want to double check the expiration date.

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

Source: University of Ottawa

An hypothesis about a type of 'Tired light', photon-photon clashes, emitting secondary photons with an energy lower than sum of colliding photons, similar to Breit-Wheeler events, was described by catalan astronomer Josep Comas i Solá, in a divulgative book. Pls read Wikipedia for it all. Blessings +
Adrian Akau
Scientists sometimes speculate just as much as investors in a stock market.
"the Big Bang occurred 13.797 billion years ago"
I see... not 13.796 or 13.798 then?
I smell false precision syndrome somewhere.
As I recollect from my basic physics practicals measuring physical parameters well over half a century ago, Archimedes' Principle, Hooke's Law, "g" the gravitational constant etc., such results are expressed with error estimates, ie 13.79±0.05, for example, else I lost marks.
"It's science Jim, but as we know it!"
I have written may times that it makes more sense for the universe to be 50-100 billion years old. It explains heavier elements, expansion and dark matter which is likely older regular matter from earlier generations of stars. Since the actual speed of light changes with refractive index, the gases in space have probably changed what is the real speed of light.
“One of these anomalies is the ‘impossible early galaxy problem,’ which is raised by small galaxies spied on by the JWST that are thought to have formed 300 million years after the Big Bang, yet seem to be as mature as billion-year-old galaxies.”

This makes no sense, since a galaxy forming only 300 million years after the Big Bang would inevitably be far more mature than one merely a billion years old — UNLESS the writer meant to say “yet seem to be NO MORE mature THAN billion-year-old galaxies.”
what is the relevance to saving our space ship0 Planet Earth? Isn't it time to really figure out how we as a species can survive on Earth? Light years, billions of years of history are nice, but a waste of time when the lifeboat is sinking.
David Szondy
@a.l. When we look at galaxies and other bodies at the edge of the universe, we are not seeing them as they are today, we are seeing the light that they emitted over 13 billion years ago. In other words, we are literally looking back in time. The difficulty of the impossible early galaxies problem is that we are seeing galaxies that formed only 300 million years after the Big Bang, but show a maturity of galaxy a billion years old. However, they are not in a state of arrested development. Yes, such galaxies would be immensely old today, if they still existed at all, but we are seeing as they were in the distant past when they were young.
I find it hard to believe that anyone still imagines there was a big bang. There was no "beginning". The Catholic Church invented BB to support their creation myth. BB was never a legitimate theory. The only theory that explains EVERYTHING, is Infinite Wave Theory, especially "the expansion of the universe in four dimensions" issue.