Posted online at 11: 47 on May 25, 1999m. EDT (1547 GMT)
Baltimore, Maryland (CNN)--
A team of scientists working with the Hubble Space Telescope said on Tuesday that they had calculated the answer to one of the most hotly debated questions in astronomy: How big is the universe?
A: 12 billion years old.
The Hubble team is working on the premise that the key to determining the age of the universe is to calculate the exact value of the Hubble constant-
The speed at which the universe has expanded since the Big Bang.
Astronomers say if they can measure the speed at which the universe expands, then they can simply work backwards to determine how long the Big Bang happened.
Accurately locating the Hubble constant is one of the three main scientific goals proposed by astronomers when they launched the Hubble Space Telescope nearly 10 years ago.
"Until the Hubble telescope, astronomers Wendy Friedman of the Carnegie Observatory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement:" astronomers were unable to decide whether the universe was 10 million or 20 billion years old . ".
"The size of the universe is so large that astronomers are unable to identify many of the most basic questions about the origin and ultimate destiny of the universe," Friedman is the head of the Hubble Space Telescope's focus project group, the team's researchers announced the findings Tuesday.
The group has been studying the universe for eight years.
To measure the Hubble constant, astronomers have studied a pulsating star called a father-making star that can be used to accurately measure the distance between galaxies.
In short, the brightness of the parent star is standard.
Think of them as bulbs with the same success rate.
Distance is the only factor that changes the brightness of the parent-phase pair--
The farther away from the Earth, the darker it appears.
The Hubble team studied nearly 800 father-making stars in 18 galaxies, 65 million light years away.
In this way, the team used stars to calibrate many different distance measurement techniques, which they then used to measure the speed between galaxies.
Astronomers from key project teams say they have calculated the expansion rate to an accuracy of less than 10%.
In the end, they got a value of 70 kilometers per million seconds (
A large apartment is 3.
26 million light years--
Light years is about 5.
9 trillion miles).
This means that a galaxy seems to move 160,000 miles faster every 3 hours. 3 light-
Years from Earth.
This means that the universe was born 12 billion years ago.
"The fact is there, we will find it . "
Robert Kirshner of Harvard University said in a statement.
"We used to disagree with two factors;
Now we are passionate about 10%.
Two factors are like not sure if you have 1 feet or two.
10% is like arguing a toe.
This is a big step forward.
"Other members of the Hubble Space Telescope's key project team include doctors.
Jeremy mode, professor of astronomy at Australian National University; and Dr. Michael S.
Turner, head of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago.