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Time appears five times slower in early universe

By: April Carson

Due a fascinating phenomenon where velocity affects the perception of time's passage, our observations suggest that time flowed more slowly in the early stages of the Universe. Specifically, the Universe's expansion causes time to appear five times slower in its early stages than it does now.

From our perspective, situated nearly 13 billion light years away, the concept of time dilation becomes apparent. Astrophysicist Geraint Lewis from the University of Sydney in Australia, together with statistician Brendon Brewer from the University of Auckland, have observed this phenomenon in the early Universe for the first time.

Their study focused on the fluctuations of luminous quasar galaxies during the Cosmic Dawn. This groundbreaking research sheds new light on our understanding of the cosmos.

Due to the accelerating expansion of the Universe, scientists have discovered that the unfolding of these fluctuations appears to be occurring at a rate five times slower than if they were happening in our vicinity.

This represents the furthest extent of time dilation ever witnessed, providing solutions to multiple conundrums. It demonstrates the consistency of quasars with this phenomenon across immense expanses of space-time. Consequently, not only do they align with the standard model of cosmology, but we can also incorporate time dilation into our investigations of their behavior.

Lewis explains that when we reflect on a period when the Universe was slightly more than a billion years old, we observe a seemingly slower passage of time. "The connection between time dilation and cosmological expansion is very important," he states. "It allows us to understand the mechanism behind why quasars are flickering in various ways."

Imagine being present in the infancy of the Universe. In that moment, a second would feel just like a second. However, from our vantage point over 12 billion years later, that distant past seems to stretch on.

While it may not be readily apparent in our everyday experiences, space and time in the Universe are intricately interconnected. This phenomenon allows us to observe the remarkable accelerating expansion of the Universe. As space expands, light originating from distant sources undergoes stretching, causing a shift towards longer and redder wavelengths. The magnitude of this shift corresponds to the vastness of the source's distance.

The phenomenon at play here is known as the Doppler effect, and interestingly enough, it can also be observed right here on Earth. Consider the way in which the sound of an ambulance siren appears to gradually elongate as the vehicle moves further away from your location. This perceptual alteration is a prime example of the Doppler effect in action.

It's incredible to think that it is this same effect which allows us to gain an understanding of a Universe that expands and ages faster than we can perceive.

In this analogy, we envision the ambulance as a far-off galaxy, and the siren becomes the light. While the emission appears normal at its source, from our vantage point, it undergoes a remarkable stretching effect. This expansion of space-time is also responsible for the Cosmic Microwave Background, an isotropic remnant of light left over by the Big Bang. By studying the CMB, scientists can gain a greater understanding of the Universe's true nature.

Time flows in a customary manner for us. If someone were in close proximity to a supernova explosion, time would seemingly progress at its usual pace for them as well. However, due to the relative velocity between our reference points, we perceive the supernova to unfold in a mesmerizing slow-motion spectacle.

It been predicted that quasars in the early Universe may exhibit a similar phenomenon, although they differ in nature from supernovae. Quasar galaxies are characterized by the presence of a supermassive black hole actively accreting matter at their core. This feeding process generates an immense amount of light as the surrounding material heats up, resulting in a mesmerizing display of flickering turbulence.

According to Lewis, while supernovae appear as a single flash of light, making them easier to study, quasars are more intricate, resembling an ongoing firework spectacle. Through our research, we have unraveled this captivating display, demonstrating that quasars can also serve as reliable temporal indicators for the early Universe. "It opens up a whole new area of exploration," adds Lewis.

Lewis and Brewer examined a sample of 190 quasars dating back 2.45 to 12.17 billion years (just after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago). Over the course of two decades, they collected data across various wavelengths. With approximately 200 observations for each quasar, they were able to reconstruct their fluctuations in great detail.

In the past, scientists believed that the effects of time dilation were not evident in quasar variability. However, these conclusions were based on limited sample sizes and observations conducted over relatively brief time spans.

By significantly increasing both the quantity of quasars observed and the duration of observations, the two researchers made a fascinating discovery: older quasars seem to exhibit a slow-motion flickering effect in comparison to more recent ones. This finding not only enhances our understanding of quasar behavior but also adds depth to our exploration of the cosmos.

This effect has provided us with a remarkable tool for understanding the workings of the early Universe. By studying these distant signals, we can gain insight into phenomena occurring billions of light-years away and formulate new interpretations for cosmology. We now know that time dilation is not only present in supernovae but also in quasar galaxies, allowing us to broaden our understanding of the universe and its many mysteries.

The findings have been officially published in the prestigious journal, Nature Astronomy.

Emerald Tablets - The Key of Time by Billy Carson


April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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