New data from the Hubble Space Telescope confirms that the universe is expanding nine percent more rapidly than theoretical calculations predicted.
Those original calculations were based on data from the early universe, so many scientists suspected that something sped up the works. But the new Hubble data suggests that the universe could be substantially younger than previously believed — perhaps by as much as a billion years, according to the Associated Press.
“It’s looking more and more like we’re going to need something new to explain this,” Johns Hopkins University astronomer Adam Riess told The AP.
Original calculations suggested that the universe is between 13.6 and 13.8 billion years old. If Riess’ hunch is correct, it would mean that it’s only somewhere between 12.5 to 13 billion years old.
“Hey, it’s good news,” Reiss told the news agency. “Everybody likes to look younger.”
There’s a chance that Riess’ explanation is incorrect and something actually sped up the acceleration of the universe at some point in the last dozen billion years. One potential culprit might be dark energy, but thus far scientists haven’t been able to directly confirm that theory.
NASA astrophysicist John Mather told the AP that there are two extant possibilities: “1. We’re making mistakes we can’t find yet. 2. Nature has something we can’t find yet.”
READ MORE: New study says universe expanding faster and is younger [The Associated Press]
More on the expanding universe: Hubble Data: The Universe is Expanding Faster and Faster