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Universe Geography


Universe Explanation ::-- Universe Facts || Universe History ||Universe geography || Bing Bang ||


Evolution of the Universe

About 11 to 15 billion years ago all of the matter and energy in the Universe was concentrated into an area the size of an atom. At this moment, matter, energy, space and time did not exist. Then suddenly, the Universe began to expand at an incredible rate and matter, energy, space and time came into being (the Big Bang). As the Universe expanded, matter began to coalesce into gas clouds, and then stars and planets. Our solar system formed about 5 billion years ago when the Universe was about 65% of its present size. Today, the Universe continues to expand.



How will the Universe End?

Cosmologists have postulated two endings to the Universe. If the Universe is infinite or has no edge, it should continue to expand forever. A Universe that is finite or closed is theorized to collapse when expansion stops because of gravity. The collapse of the Universe ends when all matter and energy is compressed into the high energy, high-density state from which it began. This scenario is of course called the Big Crunch. Some theorists have suggested that the Big Crunch will produce a new Big Bang and the process of an expanding Universe will begin again. This idea is called the oscillating Universe theory.

 

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Why do Most Scientists Accept the Big Bang Theory?

The acceptance of this theory by the scientific community is based on a number of observations. These observations confirm specific predictions of the Big Bang theory. In a previous section, we learned that scientists test their theories through deduction and falsification. Predictions associated with the Big Bang theory that have been tested by this process are:

  1. If the Big Bang did occur, all of the objects within the Universe should be moving away from each other. In 1929, Edwin Hubble documented that the galaxies in our Universe are indeed moving away from each other.
  2. The Big Bang should have left an "afterglow" from the explosionIn the 1960s, scientists discovered the existence of cosmic background radiation, the so-called "afterglow" after the Big Bang explosion. Our most accurate measurements of this cosmic radiation came in November 1989, by the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite. The measurements from this satellite tested an important prediction of the Big Bang theory. This prediction suggests that the initial explosion that gave birth to the Universe should have created radiation with a spectrum that follows a blackbody curve. The COBE measurements indicated that the spectrum of the cosmic radiation varied from a blackbody curve by only 1%. This level of error is considered insignificant.
  3. If the Universe began with a Big Bang, extreme temperatures should have caused 25 percent of the mass of the Universe to become helium. This is exactly what is observed.
  4. Matter in the Universe should be distributed homogeneouslyAstronomical observations from the Hubble Space Telescope do indicate that matter in the Universe generally has a homogeneous distribution

Size, age, contents, structure, and laws

The universe is immensely large and possibly infinite in volume. The region visible from Earth (the observable universe) is a sphere with a radius of about 46 billion light years, based on where the expansion of space has taken the most distant objects observed. For comparison, the diameter of a typical galaxy is only 30,000 light-years, and the typical distance between two neighboring galaxies is only 3 million light-years. As an example, our Milky Way Galaxy is roughly 100,000 light years in diameter,and our nearest sister galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy, is located roughly 2.5 million light years away. There are probably more than 100 billion (1011) galaxies in the observable universe. Typical galaxies range from dwarfs with as few as ten million (107) stars up to giants with one trillion (1012) stars, all orbiting the galaxy's center of mass. A 2010 study by astronomers estimated that the observable universe contains 300 sextillion (3×1023) stars.

The observable matter is spread homogeneously (uniformly) throughout the universe, when averaged over distances longer than 300 million light-years. However, on smaller length-scales, matter is observed to form "clumps", i.e., to cluster hierarchically; many atoms are condensed into stars, most stars into galaxies, most galaxies into clusters, superclusters and, finally, the largest-scale structures such as the Great Wall of galaxies. The observable matter of the universe is also spread isotropically, meaning that no direction of observation seems different from any other; each region of the sky has roughly the same content. The universe is also bathed in a highly isotropic microwave radiation that corresponds to a thermal equilibrium blackbody spectrum of roughly 2.725-kelvins. The hypothesis that the large-scale universe is homogeneous and isotropic is known as the cosmological principle, which is supported by astronomical observations.
The present overall density of the universe is very low, roughly 9.9 × 10−30 grams per cubic centimetre. This mass-energy appears to consist of 73% dark energy, 23% cold dark matter and 4% ordinary matter. Thus the density of atoms is on the order of a single hydrogen atom for every four cubic meters of volume.[30] The properties of dark energy and dark matter are largely unknown. Dark matter gravitates as ordinary matter, and thus works to slow the expansion of the universe; by contrast, dark energy accelerates its expansion.
The most precise estimate of the universe's age is 13.73±0.12 billion years old, based on observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Independent estimates (based on measurements such as radioactive dating) agree at 13–15 billion years. The universe has not been the same at all times in its history; for example, the relative populations of quasars and galaxies have changed and space itself appears to have expanded. This expansion accounts for how Earth-bound scientists can observe the light from a galaxy 30 billion light years away, even if that light has traveled for only 13 billion years; the very space between them has expanded. This expansion is consistent with the observation that the light from distant galaxies has been redshifted; the photons emitted have been stretched to longer wavelengths and lower frequency during their journey. The rate of this spatial expansion is accelerating, based on studies of Type Ia supernovae and corroborated by other data.
The relative fractions of different chemical elements — particularly the lightest atoms such as hydrogen, deuterium and helium — seem to be identical throughout the universe and throughout its observable history. The universe seems to have much more matter than antimatter, an asymmetry possibly related to the observations of CP violation. The universe appears to have no net electric charge, and therefore gravity appears to be the dominant interaction on cosmological length scales. The universe also appears to have neither net momentum nor angular momentum. The absence of net charge and momentum would follow from accepted physical laws (Gauss's law and the non-divergence of the stress-energy-momentum pseudotensor, respectively), if the universe were finite.

The universe appears to have a smooth space-time continuum consisting of three spatial dimensions and one temporal (time) dimension. On the average, space is observed to be very nearly flat (close to zero curvature), meaning that Euclidean geometry is experimentally true with high accuracy throughout most of the Universe. Spacetime also appears to have a simply connected topology, at least on the length-scale of the observable universe. However, present observations cannot exclude the possibilities that the universe has more dimensions and that its spacetime may have a multiply connected global topology, in analogy with the cylindrical or toroidal topologies of two-dimensional spaces.
The universe appears to behave in a manner that regularly follows a set of physical laws and physical constants. According to the prevailing Standard Model of physics, all matter is composed of three generations of leptons and quarks, both of which are fermions. These elementary particles interact via at most three fundamental interactions: the electroweak interaction which includes electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force; the strong nuclear force described by quantum chromodynamics; and gravity, which is best described at present by general relativity. The first two interactions can be described by renormalized quantum field theory, and are mediated by gauge bosons that correspond to a particular type of gauge symmetry. A renormalized quantum field theory of general relativity has not yet been achieved, although various forms of string theory seem promising. The theory of special relativity is believed to hold throughout the universe, provided that the spatial and temporal length scales are sufficiently short; otherwise, the more general theory of general relativity must be applied. There is no explanation for the particular values that physical constants appear to have throughout our universe, such as Planck's constant h or the gravitational constant G. Several conservation laws have been identified, such as the conservation of charge, momentum, angular momentum and energy; in many cases, these conservation laws can be related to symmetries or mathematical identities.

 

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