WASHINGTON (AP) – New calculations suggest the universe could be a couple billion years younger than scientists now estimate.

The generally accepted age of the universe is 13.7 billion years, but the new research calculates it could be around 11.4 billion years.

In recent years scientists have reopened an astronomical debate that had been seemingly settled about the age of the universe, which they estimate by trying to measure how fast the universe is expanding.

A few recent calculations have suggested the universe is younger, but another estimates it could be older. The huge swings reflect different approaches to the tricky problem of figuring the universe’s real age.

Even this new calculation could be off by hundreds of millions of years, researchers acknowledge.

The study is in Thursday’s journal Science.

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