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; their statistics will enable able an age determination with a precision of 2%, enough to also resolve the current incompatibility between the other two estimates.
Credit: National Science Foundation/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet