We've known for ages that the universe is 13 and a quarter billion-ish years old, but now a recent study is tweaking that number just slightly. Findings by the European Space Agency's Planck space probe show that the universe is about 80 million years older than previously thought, bringing the total to 13.81 billion.
The Planck space probe has managed to suss out that increased accuracy by examining the receding glow of the universe's first moments more closely than ever. The discovery lends credence to the idea that the universe exploded from a subatomic particle to nearly full-size in mere fractions of a second, faster than the speed of light. And it confirms, with actual data, theories about the universe's actual age that have been proposed for decades based on nothing but pure mathematics.
In the grand scheme of things, 80 million years is a drop in the 13 billion year bucket, but it is another step toward knowing more about this universe we inhabit. As George Efstathiou, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge who announced the finding put it, "There's less stuff that we don't understand by a tiny amount." That sounds like a triumph to me. [The Washington Post]
Image credit: Universe from Shutterstock