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Scientists see early universe in slow-motion

  • Published
    5th Jul, 2023
Context

Researchers observed data from quasars - objects powered by "supermassive" black holes at the centre of early galaxies - using them to measure time near the beginning of the universe.

Key-findings

  • The scientists used observational data from 200 quasars. Using this data, they were able to measure this immense time dilation.
  • The ancient slow-motion universe: Scientists were able to observe an early moment during the universe's evolution when it was running in extreme slow motion (five times slower).
  • This time dilation shows that massive black holes in the ancient universe behave just as Einstein's general theory of relativity

Einstein's general theory of relativity

  • According to Einstein's general theory of relativity, we should observe the distant and ancient universe running at a much slower rate than the present-day universe. Observing such an ancient period of our universe has proved challenging, though.

What is time dilation?

  • Time dilation refers to the phenomenon whereby different objects experience time differently based on their relative speeds or gravitational potentials.
  • This is observable, for example, in the fact that geosynchronous satellites experience time differently from a clock on Earth.

What are Quasars?

  • Quasars are tremendously active supermassive black holes millions to billions of times more massive than Sun, usually residing at centers of galaxies.
  • They devour matter drawn to them by their immense gravitational pull and unleash torrents of radiation including jets of high-energy particles, while a glowing disk of matter spins around them.
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