How is the universe wider in diameter than it is old?

The universe is 14 billion years old so how come its more than 14 billion light years wide? Wikipedia claims is more than 80 B light years wide so it how is that possible? Don't say big bang inflation theory because that only lasted a few nanoseconds.

11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    What is 2+2? Don't say four because I don't want you to.

    Like it or not it is explained by big bang inflation theory. The inflationary phase was brief but had unimaginably dramatic results. It may seem to be a bit of a fudge (it does to me as well) but it fits the available data very well.

    I'm curious as to how Wikipedia is able to quote the size of the Universe. I've not heard of any evidence that gives us any inkling as to how big the Universe really is.

  • 1 decade ago

    that's because the universe is expanding. a ray of light that originated here 14 billion years ago would now be about 40 billion light years away, because the intervening space has expanded all the time the light was in transit. technically there is a possible confusion here between two different measures of distance - "light travel time" distance, and "comoving" distance. 80 billion light years is the estimated diameter, in terms of comoving distance, of the observable universe out to the region emitting the cosmic background radiation that we see now. the same distance, measured by light travel time, would be only 28 billion light years. wikipedia should explain this if you delve a little deeper.

    truly, it has little to do with cosmic inflation, as that is only one possible explanation for how the universe came to be expanding in the first place. the expansion relevant here happened between about 400,000 years after the big bang (if an "event" actually occured at zero time) and 14 billion years after the big bang (i.e. now).

  • 1 decade ago

    Inflation requires a time in existence when the speed of light had no limit,and this can't be .

    The universe expanded accelerating for the first thirty-billionths of a second at which time it's radial velocity was the speed of light.

    The universe being finite is likely about 6 billion light years in radius,it may be older than 6 billion years but no bigger than 6 billion light years in radius.

  • Chains
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    It isn't. Either your information on its alleged age is in error, or your information on it's alleged width is in error, or both. Also you failed to mention if the data on the universes "depth" was available on "wikipedia". Since "wikipedia" doesn't even pass the yahoo spell checker, I wouldn't put too much credibility on the accuracy of the information you find there.

    I would consult a legitimate expert in the field, perhaps read some journals or other published materials on the subject by identifiable credentialed scientists, and EVEN THEN, I would bear in mind that our knowledge of the universe is still in it's extreme infancy and many of the things we THINK we know about it are still only theory. In addition some of these theories are so far advanced that we may not live long enough as a species to even reach the point where they can be proven or not.

    You must avoid the temptation to "declare" facts of any kind that do not have a mathematical formula at least to back it up. The easiest thing for a scientist to do is completely miss the point of any observation by clinging to an unproven or unprovable assumption, in order to "skip ahead" to fleshing out his own personal opinion about how something must be.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Great Questions.

    Read up on modern cosmology. Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" is a good place to start.

    Nobody Knows for sure.

    the Theory of the expanding universe is is based on astronomical observations combined with math and is based on Einstein's General Relativity which I do not really understand.

    Because light has a large but finite speed to look outward in space is to look backward in time.

    The observational evidence for expansion implies a smaller universe in the past.

    Physics can only understand what happened AFTER the "Big Bang" not before, because there is no reason to believe there were any "Law of Physics" that we could possibly know.

  • 1 decade ago


    Nobody can say how big the universe is.

    We are able to see up to 16 billions light years away. That by no means implies that is the size of the universe.

    Whoever claims such thing is in error!

  • 1 decade ago

    Big bang inflation. It didn't last for a "few seconds", it lasted forever and is still going on. It was the acceleration (not speed) that lasted only a few nanoseconds.

  • 1 decade ago

    Hyperinflation of space-time, not matter, at the beginning of the time (BBT) far oustripped the inflation matter that made up the universe.

    In addition, seeing something as it looked 13.7 billion years ago (the far reaches of the visible edge of the universe, means that it took 13.7 billion light years for that to reach us, so it's have 13.7 billion years to move further away.

    Source(s): Richard Feynman, Alan Guth, MIT
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    There is a difference between the size of the universe and the visible size of the universe. The universe is expanding faster then light does so it is impossible to calculate how big it is. However we can calculate how old it is and how far we can see in it.

  • cosmo
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Distant parts of the Universe can and do move apart faster than the speed of light. This does not violate Relativity or causality.

    In fact the vast majority of the Universe is moving away from us faster than the speed of light.

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