An artist’s visualization of the merger of a binary neutron star. Gravitational waves from the mergers of binary neutron stars and binary black holes have recently been detected by the LIGO and Virgo facilities. These measurements can be used to calculate the age of the universe in a way that is independent of the two conventional methods previously used. Astronomers have calculated that in the next five years it is probable that fifty such events will be detected.
UChicago scientists estimate, based on LIGO’s quick first detection of a first neutron star collision, that they could have an extremely precise measurement of the universe’s rate of expansion within five to ten years. Image by Robin Dienel/The Carnegie Institution for Science
The 14-billion-year-long history of our universe. It shows the main events that occurred between the initial phase of the cosmos -- where its properties were almost uniform and punctuated only by tiny fluctuations -- to the rich variety of cosmic structure that we observe today, ranging from stars and planets to galaxies and galaxy clusters.