An international team of scientists made a sensational discovery, looking into the very distant past and uncovering the secrets of the early Universe. Using quasars, which they used as clocks, astrophysicists determined that the Universe at an early stage of its existence was characterized by a very slow expansion, and that time stretched five times slower than it does now.
The study, the results of which were published in Nature Astronomy, represents a significant breakthrough in our understanding of the universe and confirms the basic tenets of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
Scientists used a sample of 190 quasars formed in the early Universe to conduct their research. The quasars were literally used as clocks, which helped scientists discover the cosmological dependence on the processes of time dilation and acceleration.
However, it seemed impossible to verify the basic postulates of the general theory of relativity in practice for a long time. Scientists could not look with the help of instruments into such a distant past. But the use of quasars as “clocks” helped to solve this problem and reveal the secrets of the early Universe.
Professor Geraint Lewis of the University of Sydney, one of the participants in the study, explains, “Thanks to Einstein, we know that time and space are intertwined, and that from time immemorial in the singularity of the Big Bang, the universe has been expanding. This expansion of space means that in our observations of the early Universe, time must flow much slower than it does today. We have established that this was the case about a billion years after the Big Bang.
The researchers analyzed data from observations of quasars over two decades at different wavelengths. Comparing these data allowed them to standardize the “ticking” of each quasar and create a typical timeline.
The results of the study showed that the slow flow of time was characteristic of the Universe until it reached about half of its present age. In addition, observations of quasars confirmed that the Universe is accelerating as it ages.
This discovery not only confirms the basic postulates of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, but also refutes earlier studies in which scientists failed to record the slowing down of time when studying early quasars.
Professor Lewis concludes, “With this new data and analysis, we were able to find the elusive ‘ticking’ of quasars. They behave exactly as Einstein’s theory of relativity predicts.”
This discovery has enormous implications for our understanding of the Universe and its evolution. It allows us to better understand how the expansion of the Universe took place at an early stage of its existence and how it led to what we see today.