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SCIENCE FILE | SCIENCE IN BRIEF

Team Confirms Universe May Be Younger Than Oldest Stars . . .

May 16, 1996|From Times staff reports

In the continuing debate over the age of the universe, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed earlier measurements suggesting that the universe may be--paradoxically--younger than its oldest stars. A team led by Wendy Freedman of Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena pegged the age of the cosmos at somewhere between 11 billion and 14 billion years.

Allan Sandage of the Carnegie Observatories published results two months ago suggesting, in contrast to the above, that the universe is plenty old enough to accommodate its eldest inhabitants. Estimates of the age of the universe depend on its expansion rate--a ratio called the Hubble Constant--which in turn depends on estimates of the brightness and distance of stellar objects. Sandage's colleague Wendy Freedman based her measures on Cephied variable stars, which appear as blue dots in the Hubble image she used. Sandage based his on a type of exploding star.

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