August 7, 2006 (SPACE.com) – A project aiming to create an easier way to measure cosmic distances has instead turned up surprising evidence that our large and ancient universe might be even bigger and older than previously thought.

If accurate, the finding would be difficult to mesh with current thinking about how the universe evolved, one scientist said…

The finding, which will be detailed in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal, suggests that the Hubble constant, a number that measures the expansion rate and age of the universe, is actually 15 percent smaller than other studies have found…

Scientists now estimate the universe to be about 13.7 billion years old (a figure that has seemed firm since 2003, based on measurements of radiation leftover from the Big Bang) and about 156 billion light-years wide.

The new finding implies that the universe is instead about 15.8 billion years old and about 180 billion light-years wide…

Lawrence Krauss, a professor of astronomy and chair of the Department of Physics at Case Western Reserve who was not involved in the study, said the idea of a significantly reduced Hubble constant would be hard to accommodate.

“Things fit right now very well for a Hubble constant of a low 70s,” Krauss said in a telephone interview. “It corresponds very well with the age of globular clusters as we’ve determined them and the age of the universe. It would be hard, although not impossible, to change things by 15 percent.”

More… (source)

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