Scientists have observed for the first time how the early universe moved at an extremely slow pace. According to their calculations, the universe was five times slower after the Big Bang. Such a study was published in the journal Nature Astronomy, reports

According to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, people should observe that the distant and ancient universe moved much more slowly than it does now. But looking so far into the past turned out to be unattainable. Now scientists were able to solve this mystery, using quasars as a “clock”.

“Looking back to a time when the universe was just over a billion years old, we see time appearing to flow five times slower,” said lead author of the study, Professor Geraint Lewis from the School of Physics and Sydney Institute for Astronomy at the University of Sydney.”If you were there, in this infant universe, one second would seem like one second—but from our position, more than 12 billion years into the future, that early time appears to drag.”

Professor Lewis and his colleague, Dr Brandon Brewer of the University of Auckland, used observational data from nearly 200 quasars – hyperactive supermassive black holes at the centers of early galaxies – to analyze this time dilation.

Scientists have been working to study the details of quasars that have been observed for two decades. By combining observations made in different spectra – green, red and infrared – they were able to standardize the “ticking” of each quasar. Through the application of Bayesian analysis, they found the expansion of the universe imprinted on each quasar’s ticking.

“With these exquisite data, we were able to chart the tick of the quasar clocks, revealing the influence of expanding space,” Professor Lewis said.

Previously, several international groups of scientists independently found convincing evidence the existence of space-time waves. The discovery appears to confirm a surprising corollary to Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity that has been too subtle to detect until now.