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Universe 100 million years older than previous estimates

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An image of the anisotropies of the Cosmic microwave background as observed by Planck and released by the European Space Agency on March 21, 2013.

A new study on the radiation leftover from the outset of creation of the universe has revealed that the Big Bang occurred 100 million years earlier than previous estimates around 13.8 billion years ago.

The analysis of the data collected by the European Space Agency’s Planck spacecraft during its first 15 months in the orbit provides more detailed data that the remnant microwave radiation that permeates the universe, scientists said on Thursday.

“The variations from place to place in the map that Planck has made tell us new things about what happened just 10 nano-nano-nano-nano seconds after the Big Bang when the universe expanded by 100 trillion, trillion times,” said Charles Lawrence, Planck project scientist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The new data reveal that the universe is older than it was previously measured and it is expanding more slowly than the currently accepted standards.

Plank’s data also show that ordinary matter — the stuff that makes up stars, galaxies, planets and everything visible — accounts for a relatively tiny 4.9 percent of the universe.

The data also reveal that dark matter, which does not interact with light but can be detected by its gravitational pull, accounts for 26.8 percent of the universe (about one-fifth more than previous estimates).

Planck’s data also show that the rest of the universe (69 percent) is made up of dark energy, a mysterious force that defies energy and speeds up the universe’s expansion rate.


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