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The most distant object ever detected is GN-z11 (As far as I'm aware) at 13.4 bilion light years away. This raises obvious questions about the age of the universe as again, as far as I'm aware, the age of the universe is 'only' 13.7 billion years old but if we had a telescope that could see 13.8+, what would it see?

I'm assuming nothing as there's nothing to see but I'm sure someone here has a more insightful answer 🙂

ipdg77 8 Feb 23

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If we had anything that could see farther then we just estimate the size of the universe to be bigger. My definition of the universe is, how far can we see. Even if we saw darkness behind it, that's still part of the universe


A side issue for me on this question of the age of the universe is we often think of the universe as very old at 13+ billion years, so there must be lots of species out there like us. But compared to the projected life span of the universe, in trillions of years, it could be considered "young". Evolution of species like us might take billions and billions of years, so maybe we're the first, or amongst the first to evolve. I don't know, as it isn't my field, but I've seen references to this possibility in documentaries, and I find it interesting, especially when you hear people say they think the universe must be full of other beings because of the 13+ billion of years. Maybe not.


Just because we can only see the light that far back doesn't necessarily mean that is the exact age of the universe. It could keep going on and on for all we know.

jorj Level 8 Feb 23, 2019

One of the paradoxes regarding the Universe involves whether the Universe is still expanding and whether sometime in the future is will cease to expand and begin to contract.

If hypothetically everything was brought together in the Big Bang event. This means by inference that everything that existed previously was destroyed in the event. Therefore, the only matter that exists is that which was introduced in the subsequent event.

Likewise, if the Universe is expanding, then it must have an outer edge, as matter wasn't magically scattered everywhere automatically in the explosion. If it has an edge (outer limit) and the only matter extant is that existing in the expanding Universe, then hypothetically the area outside the outer most edge doesn't exist.

That is to say, its not empty, it just doesn't exist. Until matter and time are introduced as the Universe expands, then it doesn't exist.

The last description I've heard regarding the Univere's shape is that of a toroid (a donut). That means that if it were possible for a ship to reach the outer edge, it wouldn't continue forward, but wrap around the outside of the toroid. The ship couldn't continue forward, as there is no forward.


We are only beginning to see. In biblical times god was on a high mountain and he was afraid we might climb up to the heavens where he is. Can we really see 13.4 billion light years away today? What if the universe was endless? I mean totally endless.


It’s not that we don’t have telescopes that can see past 13.8 billion light years, the light beyond that point has not reached us yet.

That's what I think is the definition of the universe. Light travels in all directions so its impossible that there is any light within our universe that hasn't reached us yet. If something exists outside our universe then it's just outside our field of view.


``I've a question on that. There is only one atom per six square inches in the vacuum of space. At what distance will those atoms prevent light from taveling? For example, if the atoms in the thickness of a sheet of paper can stop light, shouldn't it work the same in space?

This question is related to Olber's paradox and is how we know that the universe can't be infinite. There is some attenuation of light and in some places(stars and nebula) there is enough matter in the way to completely block our vision.

@Buttercup , thank you for the reply. I'll read up on that.

A sheet of paper will still let some light through, much like how you can shine a flashlight through parts of your hand. That isn't to say some light doesn't get diminished by a single atom, but you have to remember it isn't a single photon. It's countless photons that are continually coming.

Also, for all we know a good bit of light might be getting blocked and lost that way. Sure, we can see billions of galaxies from billions of light years away, but the information we see could only be a mere 10% or some other ridiculously small percentage.

@FatherOfNyx , thank you for the reply. That is pretty much what I was figuring. Think it's possible that there may be a distance where all light is blocked or deflected?

@chucklesIII I am sure there is. I personally don't believe that "empty" space has absolutely no effect on light itself. Problem is the observational boundary of the universe. As I mentioned below, there is a point where space is expanding away from us faster than the speed of light.. which means we will never see any light from beyond that point. It would be like a bird flying into winds that are blowing faster than it could fly. The bird would be flying forward, but actually moving backwards. It's the same with light beyond the observational boundary. It would be traveling our direction, but actually be moving away from us.. never to be seen by us unless expansion stops.

@FatherOfNyx , I've heard that too. It's pretty mind boggling to imagine yet here we are. And all we can see is less than a drop in an ocean.

@chucklesIII Yeah, the cosmos is mind blowing. I lean towards it being infinite, which would mean what we see is comparable to a single elementary particle in the The Milky Way.


Maybe where the big bang came from.

@F-IM-Forty I am saying we might be able to see passed the big bang.

@F-IM-Forty Could be science is exciting


What if the universe was infinite in size and in time?

That's what I believe since there is literally no end in sight.

As the homosapien prefers the tangible concept of beginning & end, the idea of infinity meets with resistance. That the Big Bang & Big Crunch may go on ad infinitum, is held by some. I tend toward this view. Then too, I am but a quanum speck of no consequence, in the vastness of theoretical science.


The best way to measure things like that is by measuring the cosmic background radiation I believe


I don’t like to make assumptions, hell, that’s why I’m an atheist. However, I think a reasonable assumption would be that we have allot to learn about what’s at the limit of the observable universe. I don’t know is the best place to position yourself for learning. I howevever, I won’t be the one doing the reasearch. I can only pontificate on the reasearch of others. I like the idea of a multiverse such that we may not see beyond our own yet it’s where another begins... keeping in mind that I’m a guitarists🙂


This sounds like a question for @Astrochuck


If you calculate the point where the rate of expansion relative to us surpasses the speed of light, it's around 13.9 billion light years. In theory, space would be expanding away from us faster than the speed of light beyond that point. Which means we should never see any light emitted beyond 13.9-14 billion light years.. unless something changes with expansion.

If you factor in the big bang and the different rate of expansion in the early universe, that point is at about 16 billion light years.. but I have some skepticism with the big bang.

Either way, there is an observational boundary to the universe. The universe could be 37 trillion billion light years across or it could be infinite, but we will likely never know.


Ponder no beginning and no ending just perpetual change that there can be no knowledge of.
SIMPLE ! done


Trump's wall?

What a pisser for all mankind lol

Makes me feel so unloved/unwanted by the rest of the megaverse!

@jerry99 well could we REALLY blame the multiverse for putting a wall around US? Lol

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