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  • richardmitnick 7:18 am on March 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How Much Of The Unobservable Universe Will We Someday Be Able To See?", , , The Big Bang   

    From Ethan Siegel: “How Much Of The Unobservable Universe Will We Someday Be Able To See?” 

    From Ethan Siegel

    Mar 12, 2019

    Our deepest galaxy surveys can reveal objects tens of billions of light years away, but there are more galaxies within the observable Universe we still have yet to reveal. Most excitingly, there are parts of the Universe that are not yet visible today that will someday become observable to us. (SLOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY (SDSS))

    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point Observatory, near Sunspot NM, USA, Altitude2,788 meters (9,147 ft)

    As more time passes since the Big Bang, more of the Universe comes into view. But how much?

    Even though it’s been billions of years since the Big Bang, there’s a cosmic limit to how far we can observe the objects that occupy our Universe. The Universe has been expanding all this time, but that expansion rate is both finite and well-measured. If we were to calculate how far a photon emitted at the instant the Big Bang occurred could have traveled by today, we come up with the upper limit to how far we can see in any direction: 46 billion light-years.

    That’s the size of our observable Universe, which contains an estimated two trillion galaxies in various stages of evolutionary development. But beyond that, there ought to be much more Universe beyond the limits of what we can presently see: the unobservable Universe. Thanks to our best measurements of the part we can see, we’re finally figuring out what lies beyond, and how much of it we’ll someday be able to perceive and explore.

    On a logarithmic scale, we can illustrate the entire Universe, going all the way back to the Big Bang. Although we cannot observe farther than this cosmic horizon which is presently a distance of 46.1 billion light-years away, there will be more Universe to reveal itself to us in the future. The observable Universe contains 2 trillion galaxies today, but as time goes on, more Universe will become observable to us. (WIKIPEDIA USER PABLO CARLOS BUDASSI)

    The Big Bang tells us that at some point in the distant past, the Universe was hotter, denser, and expanding much more rapidly than it is today. The stars and galaxies we see throughout the Universe in all directions only exist as they do because the Universe has expanded and cooled, allowing gravitation to pull matter into clumps. Over billions of years, gravitational growth has fueled generations of stars and the formation of galaxies, leading to the Universe we see today.

    Everywhere we look, in all directions, we see a Universe that tells us the same cosmic story. But part of that story is the fact that the farther away we look, the farther we’re looking back in time. The Universe hasn’t been around, forming stars and growing galaxies, forever. According to the Big Bang and the observations that support it, the Universe had a beginning.

    Inflationary Universe. NASA/WMAP

    Lambda-Cold Dark Matter, Accelerated Expansion of the Universe, Big Bang-Inflation (timeline of the universe) Date 2010 Credit: Alex Mittelmann Cold creation

    Universe map Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey

    In the early stages after the Big Bang, the Universe was filled with a variety of ingredients, and it began with an incredibly rapid initial expansion rate. These two factors — the initial expansion rate and the gravitational effects of everything in the Universe — are the two head-to-head players in the ultimate cosmic race.

    On the one hand, the expansion works to push everything apart, stretching the fabric of space and driving the galaxies and the large-scale structure of the Universe apart. But on the other hand, gravitation attracts all forms of matter and energy, working to pull the Universe back together. Normal matter, dark matter, dark energy, radiation, neutrinos, black holes, gravitational waves and more all play a role in the expanding Universe.

    The relative importance of different energy components in the Universe at various times in the past. Note that when dark energy reaches a number near 100% in the future, the energy density of the Universe (and, therefore, the expansion rate) will remain constant arbitrarily far ahead in time. Owing to dark energy, distant galaxies are already speeding up in their apparent recession speed from us, and have been since the dark energy density was half of the total matter density, 6 billion years ago. (E. SIEGEL)

    The expansion rate began large, but has been decreasing as the Universe expands. There’s a simple reason for this: as the Universe expands, its volume increases, and therefore the energy density goes down. As the density drops, so does the expansion rate. Light that was once too far away from us to be seen can now catch up to us.

    This fact carries with it a huge implication for the Universe: over time, galaxies that were once too distant to be revealed to us will spontaneously come into view. It may have been 13.8 billion years since the Big Bang occurred, but with the expansion of the Universe, there are objects as far away as 46.1 billion light-years whose light is just reaching us.

    An illustration of how redshifts work in the expanding Universe. As a galaxy gets more and more distant, it must travel a greater distance and for a greater time through the expanding Universe. In a dark-energy dominated Universe, this means that individual galaxies will appear to speed up in their recession from us, but that there will be distant galaxies whose light is just reaching us for the first time today. (LARRY MCNISH OF RASC CALGARY CENTER, VIA CALGARY.RASC.CA/REDSHIFT.HTM)

    All told, if we were to add up all the galaxies that exist within this volume of space, we’d find there are a whopping two trillion of them within our observable Universe. As enormous as this number is, it’s still finite, and our observations don’t reveal an edge in space in any direction we look.

    The amount of time that’s passed since the Big Bang, the speed of light, and the ingredients in our Universe determine the limit of what’s observable. Any farther than that, and even something moving at the speed of light since the moment of the hot Big Bang will not have had sufficient time to reach us.

    But all of this will change in time. As the years and aeons tick by, light that was unable to reach us will finally catch up to our eyes, revealing more of the Universe than we’ve ever seen before.

    You might think that if we waited for an arbitrarily long amount of time, we’d be able to see an arbitrarily far distance, and that there would be no limit to how much of the Universe would become visible.

    But in a Universe with dark energy, that simply isn’t the case. As the Universe ages, the expansion rate doesn’t drop to lower and lower values, approaching zero. Instead, there remains a finite and important amount of energy intrinsic to the fabric of space itself. As time goes on in a Universe with dark energy, the more distant objects will appear to recede from our perspective faster and faster. Although there’s still more Universe out there to discover, there’s a limit to how much of it will ever become observable to us.

    The different possible fates of the Universe, with our actual, accelerating fate shown at the right. After enough time goes by, the acceleration will leave every bound galactic or supergalactic structure completely isolated in the Universe, as all the other structures accelerate irrevocably away. We can only look to the past to infer dark energy’s presence and properties, which require at least one constant, but its implications are larger for the future. (NASA & ESA)

    Based on the expansion rate, the amount of dark energy we have, and the present cosmological parameters of the Universe, we can calculate what we call the future visibility limit: the maximum distance we’ll ever be able to observe [The Astrophysical Journal]. Right now, in a 13.8 billion year old Universe, our current visibility limit is 46 billion light-years. Our future visibility limit is approximately 33% greater: 61 billion light-years. There are galaxies out there, right now, whose light is on the way to our eyes, but has not had the opportunity to reach us yet.

    If we were to add up all the galaxies in the parts of the Universe that we’ll someday see but cannot yet access today, we might be shocked to learn that there are more yet-to-be-revealed galaxies than there are galaxies in the visible Universe. There are an additional 2.7 trillion galaxies waiting to show us their light, on top of the 2 trillion we can already access.

    The observable Universe might be 46 billion light years in all directions from our point of view, but there’s certainly more unobservable Universe, perhaps even an infinite amount, just like ours, beyond that. Over time, we’ll be able to see a bit, but not a lot, more of it. (FRÉDÉRIC MICHEL AND ANDREW Z. COLVIN, ANNOTATED BY E. SIEGEL)

    Compared to what the future holds for us, we’re presently only seeing 43% of the galaxies that we’ll someday be able to observe. Beyond our observable Universe lies the unobservable Universe, which ought to look just like the part we can see. The way we know that is through observations of the cosmic microwave background [CMB] and the large-scale structure of the Universe.

    CMB per ESA/Planck

    ESA/Planck 2009 to 2013

    If the Universe were finite in size, had an edge to it, or its properties began to change as we looked to greater distances, our measurements of these phenomena would reveal it. The observed spatial flatness of the Universe tells us that it is neither positively nor negatively curved to a precision of 99.6%, meaning that if it curves back on itself, the unobservable Universe is at least 250 times as large as the presently visible part.

    The magnitudes of the hot and cold spots, as well as their scales, indicate the curvature of the Universe. To the best of our capabilities, we measure it to be perfectly flat. Baryon acoustic oscillations and the CMB, together, provide the best methods of constraining this, down to a combined precision of 0.4%. (SMOOT COSMOLOGY GROUP / LBNL)

    We will never be able to see anything close to those extraordinary distances. The future visibility limit will take us to distances that are presently 61 billion light-years away, but no farther. It will reveal slightly more than twice the volume of the Universe we can observe today. The unobservable Universe, on the other hand, must be at least 23 trillion light years in diameter, and contain a volume of space that’s over 15 million times as large as the volume we can observe.

    The simulated large-scale structure of the Universe shows intricate patterns of clustering that never repeat. But from our perspective, we can only see a finite volume of the Universe, which appears uniform on the largest scales. (V. SPRINGEL ET AL., MPA GARCHING, AND THE MILLENIUM SIMULATION)

    At the same time that we ponder the Universe beyond our observational limits, however, it’s worth remembering how little of that Universe we can actually access or visit. All that we’re looking forward to viewing is based on light that was already emitted many billions of years ago: close to the Big Bang in time. As it stands today, even if we left right now at the speed of light, we wouldn’t be able to reach nearly all of the galaxies throughout space.

    Dark energy is causing the Universe to not only expand, but for distant galaxies to speed up in their apparent recession from us. Although there are a total of 4.7 trillion galaxies that we will someday be able to observe out to a distance of 61 billion light-years, the limit of what we can reach today is much more modest.

    The observable (yellow, containing 2 trillion galaxies) and reachable (magenta, containing 66 billion galaxies) portions of the Universe, which are what they are thanks to the expansion of space and the energy components of the Universe. Beyond the yellow circle is an even larger (imaginary) one containing 4.7 trillion galaxies, the maximum portion of the Universe that will be accessible to us in the far future. (E. SIEGEL, BASED ON WORK BY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS USERS AZCOLVIN 429 AND FRÉDÉRIC MICHEL)

    Only those galaxies within approximately 15 billion light-years, or a quarter of the radius at the future visibility limit, can be reached today, which equates to about 66 billion galaxies only. This is only 1.4% of the total number of galaxies that will ever become visible to us. In other words, in the future, we will have a total of 4.7 trillion galaxies to view. Most of them will only ever appear to us as they were in the very distant past, and most of them will never get to see us as we are today. Of all those galaxies we’ll someday see, 4.634 trillion of them are already forever unreachable, even at the speed of light.

    You might notice an interesting occurrence: the future visibility limit is exactly equal to the reachable limit (of 15 billion light-years) added to the current visibility limit (of 46 billion light-years). This no coincidence; the light that will ultimately reach us is right at that reachable limit today, after journeying 46 billion light-years since the Big Bang. Someday far in the future, it will arrive at our eyes. With each moment that passes, we come ever closer to our ultimate cosmic viewpoint, as the light from the last galactic holdouts continues on its inevitable journey towards us in the expanding Universe.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    “Starts With A Bang! is a blog/video blog about cosmology, physics, astronomy, and anything else I find interesting enough to write about. I am a firm believer that the highest good in life is learning, and the greatest evil is willful ignorance. The goal of everything on this site is to help inform you about our world, how we came to be here, and to understand how it all works. As I write these pages for you, I hope to not only explain to you what we know, think, and believe, but how we know it, and why we draw the conclusions we do. It is my hope that you find this interesting, informative, and accessible,” says Ethan

    • AJ 7:58 am on June 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      “The expansion rate began large, but has been decreasing as the Universe expands.”

      I question parts of this essay and its conclusions. The Universe has actually been expanding faster the last 4 BYA or so, not slowing, meaning that instead of the observable Universe growing, it is indeed shrinking. Outside of our local group of 70 or so galaxies, the rest of the observable Universe will expand faster than light, meaning we’ll never see more.


  • richardmitnick 9:43 am on May 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , The Big Bang,   

    From Ethan Siegel: “Top 10 Facts About The Big Bang Theory” 

    Starts with a Bang

    May 5, 2016
    Ethan Siegel

    Inflationary Universe. NASA/WMAP
    Inflationary Universe. NASA/WMAP


    Universe map Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey
    Universe map Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey

    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point, NM, USA
    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point, NM, USA

    If you ask a scientist where the Universe got its start, “the Big Bang” is the answer you’re most likely to get. Our Universe full of stars, galaxies and a cosmic web of large-scale structure, all separated by the vastness of empty space between them, wasn’t born that way and didn’t exist that way forever. Instead, the Universe came to be this way because it expanded and cooled from a hot, dense, uniform, matter-and-radiation-filled state with no galaxies, stars, or even atoms present at the start. Everything that exists in its current form today didn’t exist 13.8 billion years ago, and all of this was figured out during the past 100 years. But even with all this, there are a whole slew of facts most people — even many scientists — don’t quite get about it. Here are our top 10 facts about the Big Bang!

    Images credit: New York Times, 10 November 1919 (L); Illustrated London News, 22 November 1919 (R)

    1.) Einstein first dismissed it outright when it was presented to him as a possibility. Einstein’s general theory of relativity was a revolutionary theory of gravity, proposed in 1915, as a successor to Newton’s theory. It predicted the orbital motion of Mercury to an accuracy Newton’s theory couldn’t, it predicted the bending of starlight by mass confirmed in 1919…

    Radio galaxies gravitationally lensed by a very large foreground galaxy cluster Hubble
    Radio galaxies gravitationally lensed by a very large foreground galaxy cluster Hubble

    …and it predicted the existence of gravitational waves, just confirmed a few months ago.

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector in Livingston, Louisiana
    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector in Livingston, Louisiana

    Gravitational waves. Credit: MPI for Gravitational Physics/W.Benger-Zib
    Gravitational waves. Credit: MPI for Gravitational Physics/W.Benger-Zib

    But it also predicted that a Universe that was full of matter and static, or unchanging over time, would be unstable.

    Georges Lemaître at the Catholic University of Leuven, ca. 1933. Public domain image.

    When the Belgian priest and scientist Georges Lemaître, in 1927, put forth the idea that the spacetime fabric of the Universe could be very large and expanding, having emerged from a smaller, denser, more uniform state in the past, Einstein wrote back to him, “Vos calculs sont corrects, mais votre physique est abominable,” which means “ your calculations are correct, but your physics is abominable!”

    Image credit: Robert P. Kirshner, PNAS, via http://www.pnas.org/content/101/1/8/F3.expansion. The red box indicates the extent of Hubble’s original data.

    2.) Hubble’s discovery of the expanding Universe turned it into a serious idea. Although many scientists considered that the spiral nebulae in the sky were distant galaxies all on their own even before Einstein, it was Edwin Hubble’s work in the 1920s that showed this was not only true, but that the more distant a galaxy was, the faster it was receding away from us. This fact — Hubble’s Law, describing the expansion of the Universe — led to a very straightforward interpretation consistent with the Big Bang idea: if the Universe is expanding today, then it was smaller and denser in the past!

    3.) The idea had been around since 1922, but was widely dismissed for decades. Soviet Physicist Alexandr Friedmann came up with the theory for it in 1922, when it was criticized by Einstein. Lemaître’s 1927 work was also dismissed by Einstein, and even after Hubble’s work in 1929, the idea that the Universe was smaller, denser, and more uniform in the past was only a fringe idea. But Lemaître added in the idea that the redshift of galaxies could be explained by this expansion of space, and that there must have been an initial “moment of creation” at the beginning, which was known as either the “primeval atom” or the “cosmic egg” for decades.

    Into what is the universe expanding NASA Goddard
    Into what is the universe expanding NASA Goddard, Dana Berry.

    4.) The theory rose to true prominence in the 1940s when it made a startling set of predictions. George Gamow, an American scientist who became enamored of Lemaître’s ideas, realized that if the Universe was expanding today, then the wavelength of the light in it was increasing over time, and therefore the Universe was cooling. If it’s cooling today, then it must have been hotter in the past. Extrapolating backwards, he recognized that there once was a time period where it was too hot for neutral atoms to form, and then a period before that where it was too hot for even atomic nuclei to forms. Therefore, as the Universe expanded and cooled, it must have formed the light elements and then neutral atoms for the first time, resulting in the existence of a “primeval fireball,” or a cosmic background of cold radiation just a few degrees above absolute zero.

    Fred Hoyle presenting a radio series, The Nature of the Universe, in 1950. Image credit: BBC.

    5.) The name “Big Bang” came about from the theory’s most fervent detractor, Fred Hoyle. A theory making a different set of predictions — the Steady-State Theory of the Universe — was actually the leading theory of the Universe in the 1940s, 1950s and into the 1960s, as the claim that the vast majority of the atoms came from stars that died and not this early, hot dense state was borne out by nuclear physics. Hoyle, speaking to the BBC, coined the term in a 1949 radio interview, saying, “One [idea] was that the Universe started its life a finite time ago in a single huge explosion, and that the present expansion is a relic of the violence of this explosion. This big bang idea seemed to me to be unsatisfactory even before detailed examination showed that it leads to serious difficulties.”

    Big Ear, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, AT&T, Holmdel, NJ USA
    Big Ear, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, AT&T, Holmdel, NJ USA

    6.) The 1964 discovery of the leftover glow from the Big Bang was initially thought to be from bird poop. In 1964, scientists Arno Penzias and Bob Wilson, working at the Holmdel Horn Antenna at Bell Labs, discovered a uniform radio signal coming from everywhere in the sky at once. Not realizing it was the Big Bang’s leftover glow, they thought it was a problem with the antenna, and tried to calibrate this “noise” away. When that didn’t work, they went into the antenna and discovered nests of pigeons living in there! They cleaned the nests (and droppings) of the pigeons out of there, and yet the signal remained. The realization that it was the discovery of Gamow’s prediction vindicated the Big Bang model, entrenching it as the scientific origin of our Universe. It also makes Penzias and Wilson the only Nobel-winning scientists to clean up animal poop as part of their Nobel-worthy research.

    7.) The confirmation of the Big Bang gives us an explicit history for the formation of stars, galaxies, and rocky planets in the Universe. If the Universe started off hot, dense, expanding and uniform, then not only would we cool and form atomic nuclei and neutral atoms, but it would take time for gravitation to pull objects together into gravitationally collapsed structures. The first stars would take 50-to-100 million years to form; the first galaxies wouldn’t form for 150-250 million years; Milky Way-sized galaxies might take billions of years and the first rocky planets wouldn’t form until multiple generations of stars lived, burned through their fuel, and died in catastrophic supernovae explosions. It may not be a coincidence that we’re observing the Universe now, 13.8 billion years after the Big Bang; it might be that this is when the time is ripe for life on rocky worlds to emerge!

    Cosmic Microwave Background per ESA/Planck
    Cosmic Microwave Background per ESA/Planck


    8.) The fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background tell us how close-to-perfectly uniform the Universe was at the start of the Big Bang. The cosmic microwave background is just 2.725 K today, but the fluctuations shown above are only around ~100 microKelvin in magnitude. The fact that the leftover glow from the Big Bang has slight non-uniformities of a particular magnitude at that early time tells us that the Universe was uniform to 1-part-in-30,000, but the fluctuations are what give rise to all the structure — stars, galaxies, etc. — that we see in the Universe today.

    History of the universe, National Science Foundation, E Siegel
    National Science Foundation (NASA, JPL, Keck Foundation, Moore Foundation, related) — Funded BICEP2 Program; modifications by E. Siegel.

    9.) The Big Bang itself doesn’t necessarily mean the very beginning anymore. It’s tempting to extrapolate this hot, dense expanding state all the way back to a singularity, as Lemaître did some 89 years ago. But there’s a suite of observations — led by the fluctuations in the primeval fireball — that teach us there was a different state prior to that, where all the energy in the Universe was inherent to space itself, and that space expanded at an exponential rate. This period was known as cosmic inflation, and we’re still researching the details on that. Science progresses farther and farther back, but so far, there’s no end in sight.

    Image credit: NASA & ESA, of possible models of the expanding Universe.

    10.) And the way the Universe began doesn’t tell us the way it will end. Finally, the Big Bang tells us there was a race between gravity, trying to recollapse the expanding Universe, and the initial expansion, trying to drive everything apart. But the Big Bang on its own doesn’t tell us what the fate will be; that takes knowing what the entire Universe is made out of. With the existence of dark energy, discovered just 18 years ago, we’ve learned that not only will the expansion win, but that the most distant galaxies will continue to speed up in their recession from us. Our cold, lonely, empty fate is what we get in a dark energy Universe, but if the Universe were born with just a tiny bit more matter or radiation than what we have today, our fate could’ve been very different!

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    “Starts With A Bang! is a blog/video blog about cosmology, physics, astronomy, and anything else I find interesting enough to write about. I am a firm believer that the highest good in life is learning, and the greatest evil is willful ignorance. The goal of everything on this site is to help inform you about our world, how we came to be here, and to understand how it all works. As I write these pages for you, I hope to not only explain to you what we know, think, and believe, but how we know it, and why we draw the conclusions we do. It is my hope that you find this interesting, informative, and accessible,” says Ethan

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